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Viral Meningitis in Children


Viral meningitis, also called aseptic meningitis, is inflammation of the lining that surrounds your child's brain and spinal cord. The infection can be life-threatening. Viral meningitis is caused by viruses found in saliva, blood, nose drainage, and bowel movements. The virus is spread from an infected person to another through coughing, kissing, or sharing food or drinks. Your child may also get a type of viral meningitis if he or she is bitten by a mosquito that carries the West Nile virus.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.


Your child may be in isolation if he has an infection or disease that he can spread to others. Healthcare providers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, and a gown. Everyone should wash their hands before and after visiting your child.

Neuro signs,

or neuro checks, show healthcare providers your child's brain function. They will check how your child's pupils react to light. They may check his or her memory and how easily he or she wakes up. His or her hand grasp and balance may also be tested.


  • Anticonvulsants may be given to control seizures.
  • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your child's stomach and control vomiting.
  • Medicine may be given to reduce your child's pain or fever.


  • Blood tests may be used to find the virus that may be causing your child's symptoms.
  • CT or MRI pictures may be used to check for signs of infection. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious damage. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his or her body.
  • A lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, is a procedure to take a sample of fluid from your child's spinal cord. A small needle is placed into your child's lower back. Fluid will be removed from around your child's spinal cord to be tested for the virus that causes meningitis.
  • Throat and bowel movement cultures may be used to learn what virus is causing your child's symptoms.


Your child may become very sick. His or her brain may swell and he or she could have seizures. Without early treatment, your child's brain and other organs could be damaged. He or she may have hearing, vision, speech, or behavior problems. Untreated viral meningitis can cause paralysis or death.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Viral Meningitis in Children (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.