What is viral meningitis?
Also known as aseptic meningitis, it is more predominant than bacterial meningitis in the UK. Anyone can get viral meningitis but it’s more common in babies and young children because their immune system is not fully developed.
What can cause viral meningitis?
Many different viruses can cause meningitis. Most of them are more common during the summer and autumn months. The viruses that most commonly cause meningitis are:
- Enteroviruses – most common cause of meningitis in children in the UK. Produce mild to moderate symptoms. Not life-threatening and only lasts a short time. The virus enters orally, reproduces in the body and is excreted in the faeces.
- Mumps virus - Meningitis in mumps may occur before, or follow the swelling of the glands at the angle of the jaw, which are called the parotid glands. Symptoms are usually mild and most people make a full recovery after one to seven days, although some may get a severe form which generally occurs after the glands swell.
- Epstein-Barr virus – (Glandular fever) Meningitis caused by this virus is rare and occurs in less than half of one per cent of cases of glandular fever. It usually starts about one week into the illness and serious complications affecting the nervous system are rare.
- Herpes simplex, HIV or CMV induced meningitis - People who have weakened immune systems, injecting drug users and people who practice unsafe sex may be at increased risk from this type of meningitis, as they are most likely to come into contact with these viruses.
Viral meningitis is usually less severe and can be resolved without special treatment.