Viral meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges (the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord) caused by viral infection. It is also called aseptic meningitis or subsumed under lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) due to its cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) test results. Based on clinical symptoms, viral meningitis cannot be differentiated from bacterial meningitis. Both appear as headache, fever, and neck stiffness but viral meningitis has no evidence of bacteria present in CSF. However, viral meningitis is less serious than bacterial meningitis. Therefore, CSF analysis is needed to identify the disease. In general, there are no medications to fight the virus that cause meningitis, so treatment is usually aimed at relieving the patient's symptoms by having a rest and fever-reducing medication.
Most cases are caused by enteroviruses (common stomach viruses). However, there is evidence that other viruses can also cause viral meningitis. For instance, West Nile virus, mumps, measles, herpes simplex types I and II, varicella, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM) virus.
In the United States from 1988–1999, about 36,000 new cases of viral meningitis occur each year. This disease can occur in both children and adults depending on specific viruses and epidemic area. For example, an outbreak reported in Romania 1996, viral meningitis is more common among adults, as well as a 9-year Spanish study, it was more often seen in patients aged 15 years or older (66.1%; mean 30.2 yo). While, patients aged younger than 15 (mean 5.9 yo) was seen 33.8% of all cases. In contrast to a study in Finland 1966 and the outbreaks in Cyprus 1996, Gaza 1997, China 1998 and Taiwan 1998, the incidences of viral meningitis were more common among children.
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