The brain and spinal cord are covered by 3 thin membranes, the dura mater, the pia mater and the arachnoid. These membranes are called the “meninges”. Meningitis is an inflammation of these membranes and the cause is almost always an infection due to a viral agent or a bacterial agent. Viral meningitis is more common than the bacterial type. Viral meningitis is usually less severe and more benign. Meningitis caused by a bacterial agent can be very serious and can lead death if not treated promptly and properly. The outbreaks of meningitis in young persons in school or college which often make headlines is usually of the bacterial type and hence the concern because it can be a very serious illness.

Encephalitis is an inflammatory condition within the brain tissues. It differs from meningitis, which is inflammation of the covering of the brain. The most common cause of this inflammation is an infection due to a virus, bacteria or fungus. Encephalitis can be a life-threatening condition;...