What is the cause of viral meningitis?

Updated: Jul 17, 2018
  • Author: Cordia Wan, MD; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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Currently, more than 85% of viral meningitis cases are caused by nonpolio enteroviruses. Disease characteristics, clinical manifestations, and epidemiology generally mimic those of enteroviral infections.

Mumps, polio, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis viruses (LCMVs) are now rare offenders in developed countries. However, polio remains a major cause of debilitating myelitis in some regions of the world.

As discussed below, many viruses are capable of causing meningitis. This discussion attempts to simplify the microbiology of each viral family with emphasis on disease manifestations and risk factors. Note that in as many as one third of cases, no causative agents are identified. This number is improving with new testing methodologies.

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