Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculous Meningitis in Children in Durban, South Africa

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Abstract

Background:

Tuberculous meningitis (TBM) is the most frequent manifestation of central nervous system tuberculosis (TB) and is more common in children than in adults. The diagnosis of TBM in children is difficult because signs and symptoms are vague. Information about drug resistant TB in children is scarce, and there is no published information on drug resistant TBM in children.

Methods:

This is a retrospective review of medical records of children with culture-confirmed multidrug-resistant tuberculous meningitis (MDR-TBM) at King George V Hospital in Durban, South Africa.

Results:

Between 1992 and 2003, there were 8 children with MDR-TBM; 6 were HIV infected and 2 were HIV negative. Only one child survived. The diagnosis was made posthumously in almost all the children.

Discussion:

The changes in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in early TBM can be nonspecific and can change rapidly; therefore, CSF studies should always include culture and susceptibility testing. Factors that contributed to the high mortality were disseminated TB, HIV infection, delay in diagnosis and treatment, the absence of a standardized approach to the management of MDR-TBM and the poor CSF penetration of most MDR-TB drugs. MDR-TB therapy should be considered if there is a history of TB: a MDR-TB contact or a poor clinical response to TB therapy despite adequate adherence to treatment. Early diagnosis is important because TBM in children is often associated with a grave outcome.

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