Purpose of review
The most common infectious etiologies of meningitis and encephalitis are viruses. In this review, we will discuss current epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the most common causes of viral meningitis and encephalitis worldwide.
Viral meningitis and encephalitis are increasingly diagnosed as molecular diagnostic techniques and serologies have become more readily available worldwide but recent progress in novel antiviral therapies remains limited. Emerging and re-emerging viruses that have caused endemic or worldwide outbreaks or epidemics are arboviruses (e.g., West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis, Tick borne encephalitis, Dengue, Zika, Toscana), enteroviruses (e.g., Enterovirus 71, Enterovirus D68), Parechoviruses, respiratory viruses [e.g., severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), influenza, metapneumoviruses, measles, mumps], and herpes viruses [e.g., herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 (HSV-1), HSV-2, human herpes (HV) 6, varicella zoster virus (VZV)]. Future efforts should concentrate in increasing availability for those viruses with effective vaccination [e.g., Japanese encephalitis, Tick borne encephalitis, varicella zoster viruses, SARS-CoV-2, influenza], prompt initiation of those with encephalitis with treatable viruses (e.g., HSV-1, VZV), increasing the diagnostic yield by using novel techniques such as metagenomic sequencing and avoiding unnecessary antibiotics in those with viral meningitis or encephalitis.
We review the current epidemiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of the common causative agents of viral meningitis and encephalitis worldwide.