Different germs. Bacterial meningitis is bad and can cause brain damage (with bad outcomes such as deafness, blindness, inability to do everyday activities, . . ., and possibly death). The routine types of viral meningitis usually resolve by themselves, with the patients returning to normal. There are some less common types of viral meningitis that do cause damage. These are reasons why meningitis is so serious.
Symptoms are similar. Meningitis is an infection of the tissues surrounding the brain. Symptoms may include fever, headache, a stiff neck (an inability to touch the chin to the chest) and a rash. Generally bacterial meningitis is more serious than viral. However, intravenous antibiotics and other medications are usually initiated until laboratory results and other tests confirm the cause.