Make Viral Visible and dispel meningitis myths

21st April 2017

For our Viral Meningitis Awareness Week this year, 1 to 7 May, we’re urging those who have suffered from the viral form of the disease to ‘Make Viral Visible’ to help dispel myths and misconceptions that this form of the disease is not dangerous and always ‘mild’

Viral Week 2017

Our fifth annual Viral Meningitis Week seeks to raise awareness to inform the public, health professionals and employers about the true impact of the disease and the long-term problems it can bring.

Expert opinion suggests up to 6,000 people each year across the UK suffer from viral meningitis, an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord. The majority of cases happen during the warmer months.

Symptoms can include a severe headache, a dislike of bright lights, neck stiffness, nausea, vomiting and confusion. The disease can affect anyone of any age. We’re urging anyone concerned about viral meningitis to seek medical help and not to face it alone by contacting our helpline on

Raising awareness

For the week we’ve pledged to continue to raise awareness of viral meningitis and provide support for sufferers, including access to complementary therapies. We’re also looking to provide e-learning materials for pharmacists, encourage healthcare professionals to carry out follow-up appointments and develop and support further research.

Research carried out for us* details the far-reaching impact of viral meningitis, often dismissed as a less serious disease than bacterial meningitis.

Debilitating after-effects were just as likely to affect people’s day-to-day activities as were those from bacterial meningitis, turning their emotional and economic lives upside down and stealing their ability to learn, play and work.

Time off from education or work

After-effects include exhaustion, headaches, memory loss, depression, anxiety and hearing difficulties. Many sufferers had to take long periods off education or work, and struggle with the day-to-day tasks that most people take for granted.

Viral meningitis cannot be treated with antibiotics. Rehydration, painkillers and plenty of rest are the best remedy. Most people will make a full recovery but the process can be slow. The majority of sufferers no longer experience after-effects six months after their illness but for some the effects can be lifelong.

Mark Hunt, our Director of Communications and Marketing, said: “It’s vital that everybody understands how serious viral meningitis can be and that those suffering it, and their families and friends who are also affected, are not afraid to speak out about it and seek the support they need.

“For our Viral Meningitis Week we’re calling on everyone to Make Viral Visible – and help raise awareness by talking about the disease.”

Get the facts on viral meningitis and download free viral meningitis factsheets, providing more information for patients, health professionals and employers. 

Share your viral meningitis story.

*Meningitis and Me: The devastating and life-long impact of a brutal disease; Meningitis Now and Alterline, November 2015.