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Mollaret's meningitis

Mollaret’s meningitis is a rare type of chronic, recurrent, lymphocytic meningitis, often caused by infection with Herpes Simplex virus type 2

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The facts

  • The disease was first described as a form or recurrent meningitis in 1944 by Pierre Mollaret
  • Herpes Simplex virus type 2, which usually causes genital herpes, is present in many cases of Mollaret’s meningitis
  • Herpes Simplex viruses can directly infect the central nervous system and can be inactive for a time without the person showing any signs or symptoms
  • Reactivation of the infection can then cause a recurrent episode of disease
  • About one in five people who have an initial episode of Herpes Simplex virus type 2 meningitis will have a recurrence. If symptoms recur more than three times, this is then called Mollaret’s meningitis

How long does Mollaret's meningitis last?

  • An episode of Mollaret’s meningitis can last anything between a few days to a few weeks (usually between two - seven days) and usually resolves without any need for treatment.
  • Episodes of Mollaret’s meningitis can be months or years apart and can be a considerable burden to sufferers
  • There is usually complete recovery between episodes, with no permanent after-effects
  • An antiviral medication called ‘acyclovir’, which is used to treat genital herpes and cold sores, can be used to treat Mollaret’s meningitis, although there is a lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of this treatment
  • Anyone with recurrent episodes of viral meningitis should be assessed by a neurological infection specialist

Call our nurse-led helpline

Call our helpline 0808 80 10 388 or email helpline@meningitisnow.org