Viral Meningitis

Definition

The brain and spinal cord are surrounded by layers of tissue. These layers are called the meninges. When these layers becomes swollen and irritated, it is called meningitis. The swelling in these layers can put pressure on the brain and spinal cord. The most common forms of meningitis include:
The Spinal Cord and Meninges
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Causes

Viral meningitis may be caused by several viruses. Examples include:Viruses can be spread in numerous ways including:
  • Contact with fluids from the cough or sneeze of an infected person
  • Contact with feces from an infected person
  • Close personal contact with someone who is sick
  • Through insect bites

Risk Factors

Viral meningitis is more common in children under 5 years old. Other factors that may increase the chance of viral meningitis include:
  • Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV
  • Immunosuppressive treatments
  • Crowded, unsanitary conditions
  • Season: summer and early fall

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