The brain and spinal cord are surrounded by layers of tissue. These layers are called the meninges. When these layers becomes swollen and irritated, it is called meningitis. The swelling in these layers can put pressure on the brain and spinal cord. The most common forms of meningitis include:

The Spinal Cord and Meninges
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Viral meningitis is caused by a virus such as:

Viruses can be spread in numerous ways including:

  • Contact with fluids from the cough or sneeze of an infected person
  • Contact with feces from an infected person
  • Close personal contact with someone who is sick
  • Through insect bites