Infectious Diseases

Normally, the brain and central nervous system are well protected from bacteria and viruses. However, when the 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. And 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, Indiana University Health Neuroscience has the hands-on experience, specialized expertise and sophisticated testing to quickly make the right diagnosis.

Jump ahead on this page

1. What We Treat  
2. Diagnosis  
3. Treatment Options  

Our physicians have considerable expertise in treating neurological infectious diseases, including:

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


Central nervous system infections can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms may develop over weeks or months, and often, long after a person is first exposed. Experience and clinical expertise is the key to proper diagnosis. Many people who seek care from our infectious disease specialists have had a tough time getting a proper diagnosis.

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

Diagnostic testing available at IU Health Neuroscience includes:

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

Back to top

Treatment Options

Most infectious diseases can be successfully treated with aggressive anti-viral medication, as long as the infection is correctly diagnosed in a timely manner. As a worldwide authority on infectious diseases, IU Health Neuroscience provides the most current treatment plans and medication.

Learn more about meningitis.

Learn more about encephalitis

Back to top

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 IU Health Neuroscience 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 Mary’s quality of life.

Back to top