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Mollaret meningitis is a type of meningitis due to a viral infection (aseptic meningitis) that occurs multiple times. It is characterized by repeated episodes of meningitis, typically lasting two to five days, occurring weeks to years apart. Common signs and symptoms during an episode may include severe headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and stiff neck. Some people also experience temporary neurological symptoms such as double vision, hallucinations, altered consciousness, cranial nerve palsy, or seizures. Almost half of people with Mollaret meningitis develop long-term neurological impairment such as problems with memory, balance, coordination, and/or hearing.
The virus most commonly responsible for Mollaret meningitis is the herpes simplex virus (usually HSV-2, the type generally responsible for genital herpes, but also HSV-1). However, more than half of people with Mollaret meningitis due HSV-2 do not report a history of genital herpes. Epstein-Barr virus has also been associated with Mollaret meningitis. The diagnosis typically involves detecting herpes simplex virus DNA in the cerebrospinal fluid, which is collected during a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). This test can diagnosis other types of meningitis as well. Treatment may involve an antiviral drug such as acyclovir to treat and prevent recurrent episodes of viral meningitis, as well as various medications to treat specific symptoms present in each person. While antiviral drugs have reportedly improved symptoms in many cases, the effectiveness of antiviral therapy is difficult to measure due to the rarity of the disease and its recurrent and spontaneous nature. While aseptic meningitis usually is not fatal, serious complications such as encephalitis and coma can develop in severe cases.
Source: GARD Last updated on 05-01-20
Mollaret meningitis is characterized by recurrent episodes of viral meningitis. The episodes of meningitis usually last from two to five days and then go away on their own, but the time in between episodes varies among people with the disease, from weeks to years. Some people have milder symptoms during recurrences, which do not necessarily require hospitalization.
Symptoms during an episode commonly include:
Some people experience temporary neurological symptoms, such as:
Each recurrence of meningitis increases the risk for a person to develop permanent neurological problems or disability, which occur in about half of people with Mollaret meningitis. Various long-term symptoms have been reported, including:
Last updated on 05-01-20
Mollaret meningitis is thought to be rare. However, recent research and studies have suggested that it may be more common than initially thought. Because of its rarity, it is difficult to estimate the exact number of individuals affected by this condition. In 1994, one article stated that only 50 cases of this condition had been reported in the scientific literature. Another article (2010) mentioned 58 cases. Likely there are other cases that have not been reported in the medical literature.
Last updated on 05-01-20
The Meningitis Foundation of America provides information on their Web site on Mollaret meningitis. Click on the link to view this information.
Last updated on 04-27-20
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