Viral Meningitis

Viral Meningitis

Public Health Fact Sheet

What is Viral Meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.  Many different viruses can cause Viral Meningitis.  Viral Meningitis is also known as aseptic meningitis.

How is Viral Meningitis spread?
Viral meningitis is caused by a number of different viruses, many of which are transmitted through the respiratory route by coughing or  sneezing. The virus can also be shed in the feces of an infected person and spread through the fecal-oral route. Viral Meningitis can also arise as a complication of many common viral disorders like chickenpox or certain diarrheal illnesses.

How is Viral Meningitis treated?
There is no specific treatment for Viral Meningitis. Treatment usually focuses om treating the symptoms of the illness. Antiviral medication can sometimes be helpful. Most people with Viral Meningitis recover completely in 7-10 days.

How is Viral Meningitis prevented?
Practice good hand washing, particularly after using the bathroom or changing a diaper. Avoid close contact (kissing, shaking hands, etc.) with people who are sick. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Stay home when you are sick. Be sure that you are fully vaccinated against vaccine preventable diseases (i.e. measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and chickenpox) many of which can cause meningitis.

Additional information is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html
Symptoms of Viral Meningitis

  • Severe headache
  • Stiff neck and back
  • Vomiting

  • Sudden fever
  • Irritability
  • Rash

  • Discomfort looking into bright lights

February 2020