Viral Meningitis (PDF)

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(716) 753-4481, FAX (716) 753-4344

GREGORY J. EDWARDS County Executive ROBERT BERKE, M.D. Interim Commissioner of Health Services


Contact: Dr. Robert Berke Interim Commissioner of Health Services (716) 753-4314

FACTS OF VIRAL MENINGITIS The Chautauqua County Health Department has received phone calls from concerned residents regarding meningitis activity in our community. In the past two months six cases of viral meningitis have been reported to the Health Department. The individuals who have been reported are not known to be linked to one another. This number is not unusual for Chautauqua County during this time of year. All individuals who have been reported are recovering. Meningitis is an infection of the fluid in the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. Viral or aseptic meningitis is the most common type, caused by an infection with one of several types of viruses. Each year in the United States there are between 25,000 and 50,000 hospitalizations due to viral meningitis. In New York State almost all of the 500-700 cases seen each year are isolated cases. Outbreaks are rare. Symptoms which may occur include fever, headache, stiff neck, and fatigue. These symptoms are the same for both bacterial and viral meningitis. Because of this, medical attention is needed to determine the type. Knowing whether meningitis is

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caused by a virus or a bacteria is important because of differences in the seriousness of the illness and the treatment needed. Bacterial meningitis is very serious. Approximately half of viral meningitis cases are due to common intestinal viruses known as enteroviruses. Mosquito borne viruses account for a few cases in New York State each year, but in many cases the specific virus cannot be identified. Intestinal viruses are very common during the summer and early fall and many people are exposed to them. Fortunately most infected individuals have few or no symptoms. Hand washing helps prevent infection with many of the viruses that can cause viral meningitis. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet, after changing diapers, before preparing and eating food, and after sneezing and coughing. This will not only prevent viral meningitis, but also other illnesses which circulate throughout our community. Again, these numbers are not unusual for this county during this time of year. This information serves only to educate the public and not to raise alarm. Contact the Chautauqua County Health Department with any questions at 753-4312.

Endorsed by:_____________________________________ Robert Berke, M.D.,M.P.H. Interim Commissioner of Health Services