Zoonotic bacterial meningitis in human adults

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To describe the epidemiology, etiology, clinical characteristics, treatment, outcome, and prevention of zoonotic bacterial meningitis in human adults.


We identified 16 zoonotic bacteria causing meningitis in adults.


Zoonotic bacterial meningitis is uncommon compared to bacterial meningitis caused by human pathogens, and the incidence has a strong regional distribution. Zoonotic bacterial meningitis is mainly associated with animal contact, consumption of animal products, and an immunocompromised state of the patient. In a high proportion of zoonotic bacterial meningitis cases, CSF analysis showed only a mildly elevated leukocyte count. The recommended antibiotic therapy differs per pathogen, and the overall mortality is low.


Zoonotic bacterial meningitis is uncommon but is associated with specific complications. The suspicion should be raised in patients with bacterial meningitis who have recreational or professional contact with animals and in patients living in regions endemic for specific zoonotic pathogens. An immunocompromised state is associated with a worse prognosis. Identification of risk factors and underlying disease is necessary to improve treatment.

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