viral meningitis

Last reviewed 01/2018

The most common cause of aseptic meningitis is viral meningitis.

This is a relatively benign, self-limiting disease, symptomatically similar to bacterial meningitis.

Despite its benign nature for the commonest pathogen causing meningitis (enterovirus), it is still an unpleasant disease with substantial neurological complications and a significant mortality for other pathogens causing viral meningitis and for common pathogens in the immunocompromised or infants (1).

Viral meningitis has no specific treatment - supportive therapy is indicated. Hence differentiating viral from bacterial meningitis on presentation or admission to a hospital is important in reducing antibiotic usage, hospital bed occupancy and also to reassure contacts of patients and health care staff of a non-bacterial cause (1).