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What is Viral Meningitis?


Updated May 08, 2005

Question: What is Viral Meningitis?
Of the two types of spinal meningitis, viral meningitis is the easier and less damaging.
Answer: Viral meningitisis an infection to the membranes and fluids of the brain.

Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis, causing between 25,000 and 50,000 hospital visits per year, according to the Center for Disease Control. Generally bouts of viral meningitis last between a week and 10 days, and tend to resolve on their own. Doctors recommend treating viral meningitis just as you would a flu, i.e.:

  • bed rest
  • drink lots of fluids
  • take medicine for fever and headache

About 90% of viral meningitis cases are caused by the enterovirus. The enterovirus is especially active in the summer and early fall. Yes, viral meningitis (and bacterial meningitis) is (are) contagious.

Viral meningitis is also caused by the mumps and the herpes virus.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch. Viral 'Aseptic' Meningitis. Retrieved May 4, 2005, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/enterovirus/viral_meningitis.htm

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