What alternative etiologies should be considered in the evaluation 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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Answer

In very young patients, the signs and symptoms of viral meningitis are not "textbook," and a high index of suspicion is required for accurate diagnosis and management. The elderly may also present with atypical signs and symptoms.

For the clinician, as previously mentioned, consideration of other pathogens, such as bacteria, mycoplasma, and fungi, is crucial. Partially untreated bacterial meningitis in particular can manifest similarly to viral meningitis. These are treatable pathogens that can have devastating outcomes if misdiagnosed.

The clinician should also realize that the picture of aseptic meningitis is created not only by infectious agents, but also by chemical irritation (chemical meningitis), neoplasm (meningitis carcinomatous), granulomatous disorders, and other inflammatory conditions.


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