Symptoms of herpetic meningitis, transmission and how is treatment

Herpetic meningitis is a type of inflammation of the membranes that line the brain and spinal cord, caused by the herpes virus.

Despite being a viral meningitis, this type of meningitis is very serious and life-threatening, especially when it causes the so-called meningoencephalitis, which is an inflammation spread over several regions of the brain.

Thus, your treatment is usually done in the hospital and usually lasts from 1 to 3 weeks, and may be even longer in babies.

Main symptoms

The main symptoms of herpetic meningitis appear about 3 to 10 days after the appearance of lesions caused by genital herpes, and are:

  • High fever;
  • Strong headache;
  • Hallucinations;
  • Changes in mood and aggression;
  • Convulsions;
  • Difficulty moving your neck;
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Sensitivity to light.

In the presence of these symptoms, one should go to the medical emergency, especially after the appearance of hallucinations, seizures and other neurological problems, as they indicate that parts of the brain have also been affected by the virus.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis is made initially based on the evaluation of the symptoms of the disease, and then the doctor must order tests that confirm meningitis, such as neurological tests, MRI or CT scan and blood tests.

In addition, the doctor may also order a lumbar puncture, in which a sample of the spinal fluid is taken through a needle and taken for analysis, to check for the presence of the virus. Learn more about how lumbar puncture is performed.

How the treatment is done

After the confirmation of herpetic meningitis, the treatment is done with the use of drugs that fight the virus, such as Acyclovir, which is usually given directly in the vein for 10 to 21 days, but in babies the treatment may be longer.

In addition, medications can also be used to reduce swelling in the brain and to prevent seizures, requiring hospitalization.

See what other remedies can be used to treat viral meningitis.

Possible complications

In general, if adequate treatment is started early, the patient shows signs of improvement after 2 days and fully recovers in about 1 month.

However, in some cases severe sequelae may occur, such as difficulties in moving and thinking properly, or problems with vision, hearing or speech. In addition, when treatment is not done, this disease can lead to death.

Check out what kind of sequelae can arise after a case of meningitis.

How the transmission happens

Herpetic meningitis affects individuals who have the herpes virus and who have a weakened immune system, as in the case of AIDS, treatment for cancer and lupus, and is transmitted by contact with the infected person in the same way as with herpes.

So, to prevent herpes you should avoid kissing people who have mouth sores caused by this virus and use condoms during intimate relationships. In addition, pregnant women who have genital herpes should prefer to have a caesarean delivery to avoid transmission to the baby.

To better understand this disease, see what meningitis is and how to protect yourself.