Viral Meningitis in Children
Meningitis is an infection or inflammation of the membrane and fluid around the brain and spinal cord. Viral meningitis is caused by a virus. It may start as another illness, such as the stomach flu. It most often happens in children younger than
Symptoms of meningitis
Viral meningitis is not an emergency. But the symptoms are often the same as bacterial meningitis. You won’t know which one your child has. Seek medical care immediately if your child has any of these symptoms:
100.4°F ( 38.0°C) (in a baby less than 2 months of age)
Severe headache that doesn’t go away
Stiff neck (arching back or neck in infants)
Nausea or vomiting with headache
Sleepiness; difficulty waking up
Irritability; dislike of being handled
Bruise-like rash or splotchy skin
Sensitivity to light
Note: If a newborn or infant is irritable, very sleepy, or eats poorly, have the child checked by a healthcare provider right away, even if there is no fever.
Tests are done to diagnose meningitis. The tests can show if it is bacterial or viral. The tests include:
Spinal tap. A sample of spinal fluid is taken from the spinal canal located in the lower back. It is checked for signs of bacteria or viruses. This is the definitive test for meningitis.
Imaging tests. These may include a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests look for areas of swelling and inflammation.
Treating viral meningitis
Viral meningitis often goes away on its own in about