Arthritis secondary to meningococcal disease: A case series of 7 patients

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Arthritis secondary to invasive meningococcemia is rare and has been described as a direct result of bacteremia or as immunoallergic-type arthritis, related to the immune complex. Only a few case series have been reported.

This multicenter study aimed to describe the clinical characteristics and therapeutic outcomes of arthritis secondary to meningococcal infection.

We performed a 5-year retrospective study. We included all patients with inflammatory joint symptoms and proven meningococcal disease defined by the identification of Neisseria meningitidis in blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or synovial fluid. Septic arthritis was defined by the identification of N meningitidis in joint fluid. Immune-mediated arthritis was considered to be arthritis occurring after at least 1 day of invasive meningococcal disease without positive joint fluid culture.

A total of 7 patients (5 males) with joint symptoms and meningococcal disease were identified. The clinical presentation was mainly oligoarticular and the knee was the most frequent joint site. Five patients had septic arthritis and 4 had immune-mediated arthritis; 2 had septic arthritis followed by immune-mediated arthritis. Immune-mediated arthritis occurred 3 to 7 days after meningococcal meningitis, and treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) led to improvement without complications.

Physicians must be vigilant to the different clinical presentations in patients with arthritis associated with invasive meningococcal disease. If immune-mediated arthritis is suspected, NSAIDs are usually efficient.

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