Table 1

Causes of an “aseptic meningitis” cerebrospinal fluid picture*

*With certain obvious exceptions (for example, malignant or tuberculous meningitis), many of these causes are potentially recurrent (see text).
  • Partially treated bacterial meningitis

  • Viral meningitis

  • Tuberculous meningitis

  • Spirochaetes: syphilis, Lyme disease, leptospirosis

  • Other bacteria—for example, brucellosis, mycoplasma

  • Cerebral malaria

  • Fungal meningitis

  • Parameningeal infection (spinal or intracranial abscess, venous sinus thrombosis, occult paranasal sinus infection)

  • Endocarditis

  • Malignant meningitis (carcinoma, lymphoma, leukaemia)

  • Subarachnoid haemorrhage

  • Chemical meningitis (see text)

  • Sarcoidosis

  • Other chronic inflammatory diseases (see text)

  • Drugs

  • Mollaret’s meningitis (see text)