Staphylococcus aureus Central Nervous System Infections in Children

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Central nervous system (CNS) infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus are uncommon in pediatric patients. We review the epidemiology, clinical features and treatment in 68 patients with a S. aureus CNS infection evaluated at Texas Children’s Hospital.


Cases of CNS infection in children with positive cerebrospinal fluid cultures or spinal epidural abscess (SEA) for S. aureus at Texas Children’s Hospital from 2001 to 2013 were reviewed.


Seventy cases of S. aureus CNS infection occurred in 68 patients. Forty-nine cases (70%) were secondary to a CNS device, 5 (7.1%) were postoperative meningitis, 9 (12.8%) were hematogenous meningitis and 7 (10%) were SEAs. Forty-seven (67.2%) were caused by methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA) and 23 (32.8%) by methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). Community-acquired infections were more often caused by MRSA that was clone USA300/pvl+. Most patients were treated with nafcillin (MSSA) or vancomycin (MRSA) with or without rifampin. Among patients with MRSA infection, 50% had a serum vancomycin trough obtained with the median level being 10.6 μg/mL (range: 5.4–15.7 μg/mL). Only 1 death was associated with S. aureus infection.


The epidemiology of invasive of S. aureus infections continues to evolve with MSSA accounting for most of the infections in this series. The majority of cases were associated with neurosurgical procedures; however, hematogenous S. aureus meningitis and SEA occurred as community-acquired infections in patients without predisposing factors. Patients with MRSA CNS infections had a favorable response to vancomycin, but the beneficial effect of combination therapy or targeting vancomycin trough concentrations of 15–20 μg/mL remains unclear.

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