Infectious Diseases

Normally, the brain and central nervous system are well protected from bacteria and viruses. However, when protective barriers are breached, and a bacteria or virus enters the fluid that surrounds the brain or spinal cord, it can quickly become a life-threatening emergency.

Infectious diseases such as meningitis and acute viral encephalitis can result in dangerous brain inflammation. Without accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment, these infections can lead to permanent disability and even death. That is why receiving care from experienced neurological infectious disease specialists is so important.

With a team of world-renowned infectious disease specialists, the Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center has hands-on experience, specialized expertise and sophisticated testing to quickly make the right diagnosis.

Central nervous system infections can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms may develop over weeks or months, often long after a person is first exposed. Experience and clinical expertise is the key to proper diagnosis.

When a neurological infectious disease is suspected, our experts use neuro-imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and brain electroencephalography (EEG), to identify an infection. Access to sophisticated laboratory studies speeds analysis of spinal fluid and blood for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnostic testing available at the IU Health Neuroscience Center includes:

  • Blood test
  • Brain EEG
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • MRI
  • Spinal tap to check the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord for signs of infection

Our physicians specialize in treating neurological infectious diseases, including:

  • Encephalitis
  • Bacterial and viral meningitis
  • Brain abscesses
  • Spinal epidural abscesses
  • Other infections of the central nervous system

Treatment Options

Most infectious diseases can be successfully treated with aggressive anti-viral medicine, as long as the infection is correctly diagnosed in a timely manner. As a world-renowned authority on infectious diseases, the IU Health Neuroscience Center provides highly advanced treatment plans and medicine.

Patient Story

Mary's Story

Mary initially thought her strange symptoms were side effects of a routine surgery. But as weeks passed and she felt progressively worse, she knew something was seriously wrong. After a trip to an out-of-state emergency department yielded no answers, a relative referred her to the IU Health Neuroscience Center and neurologist Karen Roos, MD. Dr. Roos ultimately determined Mary had a rare form of meningitis and promptly began treatment. Mary calls Dr. Roos the "epitome of what it means to be a great physician" and is grateful for her tireless efforts in the journey to restore her quality of life.