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Viral Meningitis

Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord due to a viral infection.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Viral Meningitis

Viral, or aseptic, meningitis is usually caused by enteroviruses—common viruses that enter the body through the mouth and travel to the brain and surrounding tissues where they multiply. Enteroviruses are present in mucus, saliva, and feces and can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or an infected object or surface. Other viruses that cause meningitis include varicella zoster (the virus that causes chicken pox and can appear decades later as shingles), influenza, mumps, HIV, and herpes simplex type 2 (genital herpes). NIH - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Bacterial Meningitis and Meningococcal Septicaemia: Management of Bacterial Meningitis and Meningococcal Septicaemia in Children and Young People Younger than 16 Years in Primary and Secondary Care

This guideline covers bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia, focusing on management of these conditions in children and young people aged younger than 16 years in primary and secondary care, and using evidence of direct relevance to these age groups where available.

Adenosine deaminase and tuberculous meningitis: a systematic review with meta-analysis

This review found that adenosine deaminase cannot distinguish between bacterial meningitis and tuberculous meningitis, but ranges of adenosine deaminase values could improve tuberculous meningitis diagnosis after bacterial meningitis has been ruled out. These conclusions should be interpreted with some caution due to the possibility of missing studies, unclear study quality and heterogeneity between studies.

Cerebrospinal fluid lactate concentration to distinguish bacterial from aseptic meningitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

This review concluded that cerebrospinal fluid lactate concentration was a good single marker for discriminating bacterial from aseptic meningitis, and was better than other cerebrospinal fluid markers. Potential for language bias and limitations in the analytical methods of the review mean that these conclusions should be interpreted cautiously.

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Summaries for consumers

Vaccines for preventing tick‐borne encephalitis

Tick‐borne encephalitis (TBE) is a disease of the central nervous system caused by a tick‐borne viral infection. TBE can lead to severe neurological syndromes, which can result in death. Many species of wild and domestic animals act as hosts of ticks; transmission to humans occurs often in woodland areas, especially during the summer, which is the time of greatest human outdoor activity. TBE is particularly prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe.

Fever in children: Overview

Nearly all parents will know what it is like to feel concerned when their child has a hot, red face and high temperature. Although most fevers in children are caused by harmless viral infections, it is still important for parents to know how to recognize the signs of a serious illness, and when to see a doctor.

Using the combined vaccine for protection of children against measles, mumps and rubella

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) are three very dangerous infectious diseases which cause severe morbidity, disability and death in low‐income countries.

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Terms to know

The part of the central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium).
Redness, swelling, pain, and/or a feeling of heat in an area of the body. This is a protective reaction to injury, disease, or irritation of the tissues.
Spinal Cord
A column of nerve tissue that runs from the base of the skull down the back. It is surrounded by three protective membranes, and is enclosed within the vertebrae (back bones). The spinal cord and the brain make up the central nervous system, and spinal cord nerves carry most messages between the brain and the rest of the body.
Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is one of eight herpesviruses known to infect humans and vertebrates. VZV only affects humans, and commonly causes chickenpox in children, teens and young adults and herpes zoster (shingles) in adults and rarely in children.
Viral Infections
A general term for diseases produced by viruses.

More about Viral Meningitis

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: Abacterial meningitis, Aseptic meningitis

See Also: Bacterial Meningitis

Other terms to know: See all 5
Brain, Inflammation, Spinal Cord

Related articles:
Fever in Children

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