Epidemiology of Meningitis and Encephalitis in the United States, 2011-2014

Rodrigo Hasbun, Ning Rosenthal, J M Balada-Llasat, Jessica Chung, Steve Duff, Samuel Bozzette, Louise Zimmer, Christine C Ginocchio
Clinical Infectious Diseases 2017 August 1, 65 (3): 359-363

BACKGROUND: Large epidemiological studies evaluating the etiologies, management decisions, and outcomes of adults with meningitis or encephalitis in the United States (US) are lacking.

METHODS: Adult patients (≥18 years) with meningitis or encephalitis by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes available in the Premier Healthcare Database during 2011-2014 were analyzed.

RESULTS: A total of 26429 patients with meningitis or encephalitis were identified. The median age was 43 years; 53% were female. The most common etiology was enterovirus (13463 [51.6%]), followed by unknown (4944 [21.4%]), bacterial meningitis (3692 [14.1%]), herpes simplex virus (2184 [8.3%]), noninfectious (921 [3.5%]), fungal (720 [2.7%]), arboviruses (291 [1.1%]), and other viruses (214 [0.8%]). Empiric antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals were administered in 85.8%, 53.4%, and 7.8%, respectively, and varied by etiologies. Adjunctive steroids were utilized in 15.9% of all patients and in 39.3% of patients with pneumococcal meningitis, with an associated decrease in mortality (6.67% vs 12.5%, P = .0245). The median length of stay was 4 days, with the longest duration in those with fungal (13), arboviral (10), and bacterial meningitis (7). Overall inpatient mortality was 2.9% and was higher in those with bacterial (8.2%), fungal (8.2%), or arboviral (8.9%) disease. Overall readmission rate at 30 days was 3.2%; patients with arboviral (12.7%), bacterial (6.7%), and fungal (5.4%) etiologies had higher rates.

CONCLUSIONS: Viruses are the most common cause of meningitis and encephalitis in the United States and are treated with antibiotic therapy in the majority of cases. Adjunctive steroid treatment is underutilized in pneumococcal meningitis, where it has shown to decrease mortality.

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