Viral meningitis historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Cafer Zorkun, M.D., Ph.D. [2]Ahmed Elsaiey, MBBCH [3]


Meningitis was first discovered by Hippocrates. Wallgren described aseptic meningitis in 1924 and defined it as a disease with acute onset that has typical systematic symptoms of meningeal involvement, in association with a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) typical of meningitis (typically with a mononuclear cell predominance). Additionally, there was absence of bacteria on stain and culture and there was no identifiable parameningeal infection.[1]

Historical perspective

  • Meningitis was described first by the hippocrates, but it was first accurately identified by the Swiss Vieusseux (a scientific-literary association) during an outbreak in Geneva, Switzerland in 1805.[2]
  • In 1661, Thomas Willis first described the inflammation of meninges and an epidemic of meningitis.
  • In 1891, Heinrich Quincke provided an early analysis of CSF by introducing a new technique of lumbar puncture.
  • In early 19th century, detailed profile of CSF analysis in meningitis was explained by William Mestrezat, and H. Houston Merritt.
  • Wallgren first described aseptic meningitis was in 1924.


  1. GARD S (1954). "The etiology of acute aseptic meningitis (Wallgren)". Acta Paediatr Suppl. 43 (100): 54–64. PMID 13228013.
  2. Tyler KL (2010). "Chapter 28: a history of bacterial meningitis". Handb Clin Neurol. 95: 417–33. doi:10.1016/S0072-9752(08)02128-3. PMID 19892131.