Viral meningitis: Introduction
Viral meningitis is contagious and infectious disease in which there is an inflammation of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The membranes and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) encase and bath the brain and spinal cord. Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is less common. Viral meningitis is also sometimes called aseptic meningitis.
Viral meningitis is caused by a virus and is a serious disease but generally not as serious as bacterial meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can be life-threatening and result in permanent complications, such as coma, shock, and death. People with viral meningitis appear acutely ill and are uncomfortable, but most people will recover within a few days to a few weeks without permanent damage to the nervous system. People at risk for serious complications include those with compromised immune systems, such as people with HIV/AIDS.
Symptoms of viral meningitis include fever and stiff neck. To learn about additional symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of viral meningitis.
The most common viruses that cause viral meningitis are called enteroviruses. Enteroviruses are can be spread from person to person through contact with an infected person's stool. Enteroviruses can also be spread through the air by coughing and/or sneezing or through direct contact with an infected person or contaminated surface. Viral meningitis can also develop from certain viral diseases, such as mumps, chickenpox, and herpes virus infection, and influenza. Less commonly, viral meningitis can be caused by the bite of an infected mosquito or by infected rodents.
Making a diagnosis of viral meningitis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Diagnostic tests include a lumbar puncture, also called a spinal tap. A lumbar puncture involves withdrawing a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the spine with a needle. The sample of CSF is tested to rule-out bacterial meningitis and diagnose viral meningitis.
Additional tests may be performed in order to rule out or confirm other diseases that may accompany viral meningitis or cause similar symptoms, such as high fever, headache, and neck stiffness. These may include a throat culture, CT, or X-rays.
It is possible that a diagnosis of viral meningitis can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be mild in some people. Certain symptoms, such as fever and headache are similar to symptoms of other diseases. For more information on diseases that can mimic viral meningitis, refer to misdiagnosis of viral meningitis.
Treatment of viral meningitis includes rest and medications that ease fever, stiff neck, and other discomforts. Hospitalization may be required in some cases. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of viral meningitis. ...more »
is an illness in which there is inflammation of the tissues that cover
the brain and spinal cord. Viral or aseptic meningitis, which is ... more about Viral meningitis.
Viral meningitis: Viral meningitis refers to meningitis caused by a viral infection.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Viral meningitis is available below.
Viral meningitis: Symptoms
Symptoms of viral meningitis generally develop about three to seven days after exposure to an enteroviruses virus or other viruses that cause viral meningitis. However, symptoms can develop more quickly in some cases. Symptoms of viral meningitis can also develop after a person has had symptoms of a cold or influenza, such as a runny nose or diarrhea.
The symptoms of ...more symptoms »
Viral meningitis: Treatments
The first step in treating viral meningitis is preventing its occurrence and spread. Prevention of the spread of viral meningitis includes frequent hand washing and covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
Treatment of viral meningitis includes rest, pain medications and anti-fever medications, such as Tylenol, and drinking extra ...more treatments »
Viral meningitis: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of viral meningitis may be delayed because in some cases, symptoms can be so mild that the disease goes undiagnosed. In addition, some symptoms, such as headache, stiff neck, and fatigue, can mimic symptoms of another disease or condition. These include influenza, tension headache, muscle strain in the neck, or migraine headache. Symptoms of viral meningitis also closely ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Viral meningitis
See full list of 52
symptoms of Viral meningitis
Treatments for Viral meningitis
- Watchful waiting
- Symptomatic and supportive treatment
- HSV, varicella and CMV have a specific antiviral therapy; most other viruses do not. For HSV the treatment of choice is acyclovir
- Treatment is needed for fungal or mycobacterial causes of aseptic meningitis. Herpesvirus/varicella (chicken pox) virus can be treated with anti-viral medicines. Supportive treatment for non-infectious causes consists of pain medications and management of complications, if they occur
- No specific treatment is available for enteroviral aseptic meningitis
- more treatments...»
Read more about treatments for Viral meningitis
Home Diagnostic Testing
Home medical testing related to Viral meningitis:
- Child Behavior: Home Testing
- Child General Health: Home Testing
Wrongly Diagnosed with Viral meningitis?
Viral meningitis: Related Patient Stories
Viral meningitis: Deaths
Read more about Deaths and Viral meningitis.
Types of Viral meningitis
- Enterovirus-caused meningitis
- Arbovirus-caused meningitis
- Measles-caused meningitis
- Mumps-caused meningitis
- Chickenpox-caused meningitis
- more types...»
Read more about Types of Viral meningitis
Diagnostic Tests for Viral meningitis
Read more about tests for Viral meningitis
Viral meningitis: Complications
Review possible medical complications related to Viral meningitis:
- Communicating hydrocephalus
- Acute hydrocephalus (see Brain swelling)
- Long-term neurological sequelae from uncomplicated viral meningitis are rare. Sequelae including seizure disorders, hydrocephalus, sensorineural hearing loss, weakness, paralysis, cranial nerve palsy, learning disabilities, blindness, behavior disorders, and speech delay in children have been reported, especially for infants and young children
- Encephalitis may develop, though this is rare. Infection may last much longer in a person with a depressed immune system
- more complications...»
Causes of Viral meningitis
See full list of 70
causes of Viral meningitis
More information about causes of Viral meningitis:
Disease Topics Related To Viral meningitis
Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Viral meningitis:
Viral meningitis: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
Misdiagnosis and Viral meningitis
Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases,
because it may cause only mild or even absent symptoms.
Although the most...read more »
Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who
had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness
because he suffered from sudden...read more »
Sinusitis is overdiagnosed: There is a tendency to give a diagnosis of sinusitis,
when the condition is really a harmless complication of another infection,
such as a common cold....read more »
Whooping cough often undiagnosed: Although most children in the Western world have been
immunized against whooping cough (also called "pertussis"), this protection wears
off after about 15 years....read more »
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for
a patient to show mental decline to dementia.
Whereas this can, of course, occur due to...read more »
Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the
more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed
(it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with...read more »
Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue
with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure.
The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure can simply...read more »
Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms
of severe brain injury are hard to miss,
it is less clear for milder injuries, or even those causing a mild concussion diagnosis.
The condition goes by...read more »
MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms
such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked.
This is particularly...read more »
Brain pressure condition often misdiagnosed as dementia: A condition
that results from an excessive pressure of CSF within the brain is often misdiagnosed.
It may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease or dementia (such...read more »
Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had
suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their return.
A variety of symptoms can occur in post-concussion...read more »
Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be
correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients.
These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but...read more »
Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency
is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms of multiple...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Viral meningitis
Viral meningitis: Research Doctors & Specialists
Research related physicians and medical specialists:
- Nerve Specialists:
- Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists:
- Neurology (Brain/CNS Specialists):
- Child Health Specialists (Pediatrics):
- more specialists...»
Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:
Hospitals & Clinics: Viral meningitis
Research quality ratings and patient safety measures
for medical facilities in specialties related to Viral meningitis:
Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »
Choosing the Best Hospital:
More general information, not necessarily in relation to Viral meningitis,
on hospital performance and surgical care quality:
Viral meningitis: Rare Types
Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:
Evidence Based Medicine Research for Viral meningitis
Medical research articles related to Viral meningitis include:
Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database
Viral meningitis: Animations
More Viral meningitis animations & videos
Prognosis for Viral meningitis
Prognosis for Viral meningitis:
The prognosis for viral meningitis is usually excellent, with most cases resolving in 7-10 days.
More about prognosis of Viral meningitis
Research about Viral meningitis
Visit our research pages for current research about Viral meningitis treatments.
Prevention of Viral meningitis
Prevention information for Viral meningitis has been compiled from various data sources
and may be inaccurate or incomplete.
None of these methods guarantee prevention of Viral meningitis.
Read more about prevention of Viral meningitis
Statistics for Viral meningitis
Viral meningitis: Broader Related Topics
Types of Viral meningitis
Viral meningitis Message Boards
Related forums and medical stories:
User Interactive Forums
Read about other experiences, ask a question about Viral meningitis, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:
Article Excerpts about Viral meningitis
is an illness in which there is inflammation of the tissues that cover
the brain and spinal cord. Viral or aseptic meningitis, which is
the most common type, is caused by an infection with one of several types
of viruses. Meningitis can also be caused by infections with several
types of bacteria or fungi. (Source: excerpt from Viral (Aseptic) Meningitis: DVRD)
Definitions of Viral meningitis:
A syndrome characterized by headache, neck stiffness, low grade fever, and CSF lymphocytic pleocytosis in the absence of an acute bacterial pathogen. Viral meningitis is the most frequent cause although MYCOPLASMA INFECTIONS; RICKETTSIA INFECTIONS; diagnostic or therapeutic procedures; NEOPLASTIC PROCESSES; septic perimeningeal foci; and other conditions may result in this syndrome. (From Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p745)
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Contents for Viral meningitis:
User Surveys and Discussion Forums
» Next page: What is Viral meningitis?
Medical Tools & Articles:
Tools & Services:
Forums & Message Boards
- Ask or answer a question at the Boards: