Which Herpesviridae (herpesviruses) cause meningitis?

Updated: Jul 16, 2019
  • Author: Rodrigo Hasbun, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The Herpesviridae family consists of large, DNA-containing enveloped viruses. Eight members are known to cause human infections, and all have been implicated in meningitis syndromes, with the exception of HHV-8 or Kaposi sarcoma–associated virus.

HSV accounts for 0.5-3% of cases of aseptic meningitis; it is most commonly associated with primary genital infection and is less likely during recurrences. HSV-1 is a cause of encephalitis, while HSV-2 more commonly causes meningitis. Although Mollaret syndrome (a recurrent, but benign, aseptic meningitis syndrome) is more frequently associated with HSV-2, HSV-1 has also been implicated as a cause.

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV, or HHV-4) and cytomegalovirus (CMV, or HHV-5) infection may manifest as meningitis in patients with the mononucleosis syndrome. Varicella-zoster virus (VZV, or HHV-3) and CMV cause meningitis in immunocompromised hosts, especially patients with AIDS and transplant recipients. HHV-6 and HHV-7 have been reported to cause meningitis in transplant recipients.

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