Acute Bacterial Meningitis with Coincident Methamphetamine Use: A Case Report and Review of the Literature

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Abstract

Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that can adversely affect the central nervous system and the immune system. Through various mechanisms, methamphetamine is toxic to neurons, endothelial cells, lymphocytes, granulocytes, and macrophages resulting in systemic damage. Reported is the sudden demise of an otherwise healthy 31-year-old woman with a history of stimulant abuse. At autopsy, acute bacterial meningitis was identified. Microbiology cultures grew a single isolate of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Toxicology was positive for amphetamine (0.13 mg/L) and methamphetamine (0.8 mg/L). The cause of death was classified as acute bacterial meningitis with methamphetamine use. Either the acute bacterial meningitis or the methamphetamine toxicity would have been sufficient to result in death; however, the concurrent pathophysiology of the two entities must be understood. A review of the current literature assesses the mechanisms of injury attributed to acute and chronic methamphetamine use, bacterial meningitis, and the synergy between the two.

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