RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Nosocomial bacterial meningitis in adults: a prospective series of 50 cases.

In order to evaluate characteristics of nosocomial meningitis in adults, we performed a prospective cohort study of 50 episodes of nosocomial bacterial meningitis. These cases were confirmed by culture of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in patients aged >16 years. Classic symptoms of bacterial meningitis (headache, neck stiffness and fever) were present in >70% of the episodes, although only a minority (41%) presented with impairment of consciousness. Underlying conditions, such as a history of neurosurgery, recent head injury, CSF leakage or a distant focus of infection, were present in 94% of the episodes. Staphylococcus aureus was the most common pathogen in patients with a history of neurosurgery, causing 10 of 32 episodes (31%). Patients with a distant focus of infection, such as otitis, sinusitis or pneumonia were more likely to have meningitis due to Streptococcus pneumoniae than patients without [six of nine episodes (67%) vs seven of 41 (17%); P=0.01]. Complications occurred in 50% of the episodes and 16% of the patients died. Our study confirms that adults with nosocomial meningitis are a distinct patient group with specific bacterial pathogens, as compared to those with community-acquired bacterial meningitis. Underlying conditions, especially a history of neurosurgery or a distant focus of infection, were present in the large majority of patients, and mortality and morbidity rates were high.

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