The Impact and Burden of Neurological Sequelae Following Bacterial Meningitis: A Narrative Review

Microorganisms. 2021 Apr 22;9(5):900. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9050900.


The burden, impact, and social and economic costs of neurological sequelae following meningitis can be devastating to patients, families and communities. An acute inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, meningitis results in high mortality rates, with over 2.5 million new cases of bacterial meningitis and over 236,000 deaths worldwide in 2019 alone. Up to 30% of survivors have some type of neurological or neuro-behavioural sequelae. These include seizures, hearing and vision loss, cognitive impairment, neuromotor disability and memory or behaviour changes. Few studies have documented the long-term (greater than five years) consequences or have parsed out whether the age at time of meningitis contributes to poor outcome. Knowledge of the socioeconomic impact and demand for medical follow-up services among these patients and their caregivers is also lacking, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Within resource-limited settings, the costs incurred by patients and their families can be very high. This review summarises the available evidence to better understand the impact and burden of the neurological sequelae and disabling consequences of bacterial meningitis, with particular focus on identifying existing gaps in LMICs.

Keywords: WHO meningitis roadmap; burden; disability; meningitis; neurological sequelae; social and economic costs; tuberculous meningitis.

Publication types

  • Review