Neurologic infections in diabetes mellitus

Handb Clin Neurol. 2014:126:175-94. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53480-4.00014-X.


Even at a time when HIV/AIDS and immunosuppressive therapy have increased the number of individuals living with significant immunocompromise, diabetes mellitus (DM) remains a major comorbid disorder for several rare but potentially lethal infections, including rhino-orbital-cerebral mucormycosis and malignant external otitis. DM is also a commonly associated condition in patients with nontropical pyomyositis, pyogenic spinal infections, Listeria meningitis, and blastomycosis. As West Nile virus spread to and across North America over a decade ago, DM appeared in many series as a risk factor for death or neuroinvasive disease. More recently, in several large international population-based studies, DM was identified as a risk factor for herpes zoster. The relationships among infection, DM, and the nervous system are multidirectional. Viral infections have been implicated in the pathogenesis of type 1 and type 2 DM, while parasitic infections have been hypothesized to protect against autoimmune disorders, including type 1 DM. DM-related neurologic disease can predispose to systemic infection - polyneuropathy is the predominant risk factor for diabetic foot infection. Because prognosis for many neurologic infections depends on timely institution of antimicrobial and sometimes surgical therapy, neurologists caring for diabetic patients should be familiar with the clinical features of the neuroinfectious syndromes associated with DM.

Keywords: Diabetes complications; Listeria; West Nile virus; blastomycosis; central nervous system infections; epidural abscess; herpes zoster; meningitis; mucormycosis; otitis externa; pyomyositis; spinal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Central Nervous System Infections / diagnosis*
  • Central Nervous System Infections / epidemiology*
  • Central Nervous System Infections / therapy
  • Diabetes Complications / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Complications / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Humans


  • Anti-Infective Agents