What causes viral meningitis?


Quick Answer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enteroviruses cause viral meningitis. In addition, other viral infections such as mumps, Epstein-Barr, measles, herpes simplex, varicella zoster, influenza and mosquito-born viruses can cause viral meningitis.

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Full Answer

Mayo Clinic notes that enteroviruses are more common during the summer, and the CDC states that the majority of people who develop a causative virus do not go on to suffer from viral meningitis. Enteroviruses primarily spread via the fecal-oral route and less commonly through respiratory droplets and saliva. Other viruses leading to viral meningitis usually spread by people having close contact with a patient carrying them.

The CDC highlights risk factors for this condition. Those who have a weak immune system are at higher risk. This includes children under the age of 5 and people taking medications such as chemotherapy that weaken the immune system.

According to WebMD, the best way to protect people from any form of meningitis is to stay up to date with vaccine schedules that protect against causative viruses. The CDC also encourages good hygiene practices. Washing hands after dealing with feces, disinfecting surfaces and avoiding sharing cups and cutlery with those who have an infection are all good preventative measures.

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