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Risk factors for community-acquired bacterial meningitis.

BACKGROUND: Bacterial meningitis is a significant burden of disease and mortality in all age groups worldwide despite the development of effective conjugated vaccines. The pathogenesis of bacterial meningitis is based on complex and incompletely understood host-pathogen interactions. Some of these are pathogen-specific, while some are shared between different bacteria.

METHODS: We searched the database PubMed to identify host risk factors for bacterial meningitis caused by the pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis and Haemophilus influenzae type b, because they are three most common causative bacteria beyond the neonatal period.

RESULTS: We describe a number of risk factors; including socioeconomic factors, age, genetic variation of the host and underlying medical conditions associated with increased susceptibility to invasive bacterial infections in both children and adults.

CONCLUSIONS: As conjugated vaccines are available for these infections, it is of utmost importance to identify high risk patients to be able to prevent invasive disease.

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