An elementary school child in Cumberland has been hospitalized with viral meningitis, the school district told parents in an email Saturday.

SAD 51 Superintendent Jeff Porter said the child attends Mabel I. Wilson School, which is for students in kindergarten through third grade.

Porter noted that viral meningitis is typically less severe than bacterial meningitis. Viral meningitis is also more common that the bacterial form and people who contract it often get well without treatment within a week to 10 days, although it can be more severe for infants under a year of age or people with weakened immune systems.

Reports of viral meningitis have spiked in recent weeks, particularly in York County. On Thursday, parents in Biddeford were told that a high school student there had been diagnosed with viral meningitis.

Symptoms include fever, headaches, a stiff neck, poor appetite and nausea, sleepiness or trouble waking up, lethargy and vomiting. There is no specific treatment for viral meningitis and antibiotics do not help, but they are used to treat those with bacterial meningitis.

Porter said those in contact with a person who has viral meningitis may become sick with viruses that cause the meningitis but are not likely to get meningitis if they are otherwise healthy.

To avoid those viruses, school officials urge students to wash their hands often, avoid close contact and touching one’s face with unwashed hands, cover coughs and sneezes, clean frequently touched surfaces and stay home if sick .

Meningitis is an inflammation of tissue that covers the brain and spiral cord. It is often caused by viruses – such as mumps, herpes, measles, influenza, arboviruses (such as West Nile virus) and lymphomcytic virus. Those considered most at risk are children younger than 5 and those with weakened immune symptoms caused by diseases, medications or recent transplants.