Munson Health
Viral Meningitis

Back to Document

by Alan R


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


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will focus on the nervous system.
To help rule out other causes of the inflammation, such as a tumor, your doctor may need pictures of the brain, spine, and skull. These pictures can be created with:
Viral meningitis has similar symptoms as bacterial meningitis. To make sure you do not have bacterial meningitis, the following tests of your bodily fluids may be done:
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Sputum tests
  • Lumbar puncture—to evaluate cerebralspinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain
  • Tests of pus from skin infections


To reduce your chance of a viral infection:
  • Wash your hands often, especially:
    • If you are in close contact with an infected person
    • After you change the diaper of an infected infant
  • Regularly wash objects and surfaces touched by children. Use a diluted bleach solution.
  • Ask your doctor about appropriate vaccinations, especially if you've never had measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.
  • To prevent infections spread by mosquito bites:
    • Follow public health recommendations for reducing mosquitoes near your home.
    • Take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Use insect repellent and appropriate clothing when outdoors.
    • Avoid areas or being outside when mosquitoes are prevalent.
  • If you are contemplating a pregnancy:
    • Be sure you are protected from common diseases like chickenpox. Ask your doctor about recommended vaccinations.
    • Avoid all contact with rodents during pregnancy.


Meningitis Foundation of America

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Health Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada



Enteroviral meningitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 7, 2012. Accessed August 27, 2014.

Viral meningitis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed August 27, 2014.


Revision Information