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Viral Meningitis

What is viral meningitis?
What are the symptoms of viral meningitis?
How is viral meningitis spread?
What is the difference between bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis?
How can I keep from getting viral meningitis?
If I’ve been exposed to viral meningitis, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for viral meningitis?
How serious is viral meningitis?
How many cases of viral meningitis have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Where can I get more information on viral meningitis?

What is viral meningitis?
Viral meningitis is an infection of the meninges, which is the thin covering of the brain and spinal cord. It is a fairly common disease and is caused by a number of different viruses.

What are the symptoms of viral meningitis?

The symptoms may vary with individuals. Most infected people will have no symptoms, only mild cold-like symptoms or a rash with a low-grade fever.

What is the difference between bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis?
As the names indicate, bacterial meningitis is caused by bacteria; and viral by a virus. Typically, bacterial meningitis is more severe and requires treatment. It is also contagious from person-to-person. Viral menigitis typically does not require treatment, and is not contagious.

How is viral meningitis spread?Two people shaking hands
The most common cause of viral meningitis is enteroviruses. Enteroviruses are spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions like mucus and saliva. This usually happens by shaking hands with an infected person or touching something they have handled, and then rubbing your own nose or mouth. Enteroviruses can also be found in the stool of an infected person, leading to the spread of the viruses due to unsanitary methods when changing an infected infant’s diaper.

If you are around someone with viral meningitis there is a moderate chance of being infected, but a very small chance of developing meningitis.

How can I keep from getting viral meningitis?

If I’ve been exposed to viral meningitis, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
The initial symptoms of viral meningitis can occur between three and seven days after exposure.

What treatments are available for viral meningitis?
There is no specific treatment for viral meningitis, other than bed rest and fluids.

How serious is viral meningitis?
Viral meningitis is serious, but rarely fatal in people with healthy immune systems. However, viral meningitis shares many of the symptoms of bacterial meningitis, which is very serious and can result in death or permanent disability. For this reason, if you believe you or your child has meningitis, contact your health care provider as soon as possible.

How many cases of viral meningitis have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Viral meningitis cases are not required to be reported to the Health Department, so case numbers are not available.

Where can I get more information on viral meningitis?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or  you can call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention