- Viral meningitis
- Aseptic meningitis—caused by a variety of medical conditions except bacteria
- Bacterial meningitis—generally the most serious infection
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- Herpes viruses
- Varicella virus—chickenpox
- Rubella viruses
- West Nile virus
- Contact with fluids from the cough or sneeze of an infected person
- Contact with feces from an infected person
- Close personal contact with someone who is sick
- Through insect bites
- Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV infection
- Immunosuppressive treatments
- Crowded, unsanitary conditions
- Season: summer and early fall
- High fever
- Stiff, sore neck
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- High fever—especially unexplained high fever
- Feeding poorly or refusing to eat
- Tautness or bulging of soft spots between skull bones
- Difficulty awakening
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Sputum tests
- Lumbar puncture—to evaluate cerebralspinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain
- Tests of pus from skin infections
- Rest and fluids
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
- Antibiotics may be given for 2-3 days while the doctor waits for test results—antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections
- IV antiviral drugs—for severe infections—few viruses can be treated this way
Wash your hands
- If you are in close contact with an infected person
- After you change the diaper of an infected infant
- Regularly wash objects and surfaces touched by children. Use a diluted bleach solution.
- Ask your doctor about appropriate vaccinations, especially if you've never had measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.
To prevent infections spread by mosquito bites:
- Follow public health recommendations for reducing mosquitoes near your home.
- Take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Use insect repellent and appropriate clothing when outdoors.
- Avoid areas or being outside when mosquitoes are prevalent.
If you are contemplating a pregnancy:
- Be sure you are protected from common diseases like chickenpox. Ask your doctor about recommended vaccinations.
- Avoid all contact with rodents during pregnancy.
Meningitis Foundation of America http://www.musa.org
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Enteroviral meningitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 7, 2012. Accessed August 27, 2014.
Viral meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/viral.html. Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed August 27, 2014.
- Reviewer: Fabienne Daguilh, MD
- Review Date: 06/2014 -
- Update Date: 00/82/2014 -