Community-acquired bacterial meningitis

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency and is associated with a high disease burden. We reviewed recent progress in the management of patients with community-acquired bacterial meningitis.

Recent findings

The worldwide burden of disease of bacterial meningitis remains high, despite the decreasing incidence following introduction of routine vaccination campaigns. Delay in diagnosis and treatment remain major concerns in the management of acute bacterial meningitis. European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases guidelines strive for a door-to-antibiotic-time less than 1 h. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has emerged as an important diagnostic tool to identify the causative organism. Point-of-care tests using fast multiplex PCR have been developed, but additional value has not been proven. Although anecdotal observations advocate pressure-based management, a randomized controlled trial will need to be performed first to determine efficacy and safety of such an aggressive treatment approach. Adjunctive dexamethasone remains the only adjunctive therapy with proven efficacy.

Summary

The incidence of bacterial meningitis has been decreasing after the implementation of effective vaccines. Treatment should be administered as soon as possible and time to treatment should not exceed 1 h.

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