Viral meningitis is a condition of the central nervous system resulting from swelling around the membranes near the brain and spinal cord. Unlike bacterial meningitis, the viral form is usually less serious and often subsides without significant treatment.
The primary causes of viral meningitis are enteroviruses, which are responsible for 85% of cases. Other vectors for infection can come from mumps and herpes viruses. Arboviruses make up about 5% of infections. These are viruses transported by mosquittos and other insects.
Common symptoms of viral meningitis are a headache, fever, and stiff neck. In certain cases, nausea and vomiting may be present. The symptoms often appear within 1 to 3 days after exposure, but may take up to a week to arrive. After symptoms are identified, it is critical that the individual to seek immediate medical attention to rule out of the possibility of the bacterial version. This must be done with a spinal tap, but the viral version can be identified with a simple blood test. After viral meningitis is positively identified, there is no treatment as viruses are not affected by antibiotics. The best approach is to receive plenty of rest and stay well hydrated. Symptoms of the infection usually subside after 10 days.
Those most susceptible to viral meningitis are children and young adults; however, anyone can become infected with the virus. The most common way that the virus spreads is through contact with the stool of an infected individual. This is typical among children who are being potty trained and parents who are changing diapers. Physical contact with an infected person can also pass along the virus. This can be done through the exchange of saliva or touching the same objects.
Contracting viral meningitis can be minimized by adhering to the rules of proper hygiene and avoiding direct contact with sick individuals. Currently, most children are immunized against diseases such as measles and mumps that can be responsible for the disease.