JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Adult meningitis. Rapid identification for prompt treatment.

To be effective, treatment of meningitis should be based on the history and physical examination, careful examination of the cerebrospinal fluid, and good clinical judgment regarding the most likely pathogen. Meningitis in adults is usually caused by certain common viruses and bacteria, although atypical pathogens should be considered in immunocompromised patients. Supportive therapy measures are appropriate for viral disease, and intravenous acyclovir (Zovirax) may be given if infection with herpes simplex virus is suspected. In cases of presumed bacterial meningitis, antimicrobial agents should be selected that penetrate the blood-brain barrier and maintain activity against the most likely pathogens; antibiotic therapy should be instituted right away, along with supportive measures. Although corticosteroids have proven benefits in the treatment of pediatric populations with Haemophilus influenzae meningitis, their effectiveness in adults has not yet been established. Prophylaxis with vaccines or rifampin is sometimes useful.

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