A review of the clinical presentation, laboratory features, antimicrobial therapy and outcome of 77 episodes of pneumococcal meningitis occurring in children and adults

J Infect. 1994 Sep;29(2):171-82. doi: 10.1016/s0163-4453(94)90698-x.


Seventy-seven episodes of pneumococcal meningitis in 69 patients were reviewed. Twelve (15.6%) episodes occurred in those over 60 years old, 14 (18.2%) in patients between 10 and 60 years, 22 (28.6%) in patients between 2 and 10 years and 29 (37.7%) in those under 2 years. Overall mortality was 13.0% (10/77) and age of > 60 years was significantly associated with mortality (P < 0.05). Twelve episodes resulted in disabilities, eight of which were in those under 2 years, and took the form of hearing impairment in nine. Many patients had predisposing conditions with aural pathology, malignancy and diabetes mellitus being commonest in those over 10 years of age and aural pathology, preceding viral infection, renal disease, sinusitis or recent lower respiratory tract infection commonest in those aged between 2 and 10 years. Three of five patients with recurrent meningitis had CSF leaks. The most common features at presentation were fits, irritability, diarrhoea, and bulging fontanelles in those under 6 months; vomiting, drowsiness and poor feeding in those between 6 months and 2 years; neck stiffness, vomiting and drowsiness in those between 2 and 10 years while neck stiffness, focal neurology, headache and vomiting were commonest in those over 10 years old. Fever was common in all age groups as were foci of infection outside the CSF, with chest infections being significantly associated with mortality (P < 0.05). Of the laboratory parameters measured, low platelets (< 100 x 10(9)/l and high blood urea (> 7 mmol/l) were associated with mortality (P < 0.05). Blood cultures grew Streptococcus pneumoniae in 79.7% patients. Seventy-four (96%) patients had CSF taken of which 81% had gram films which were positive and interpreted correctly as showing pneumococci. Pneumococci were grown in 87.8% CSF cultures and all were sensitive to penicillin but a single isolate was chloramphenicol resistant. Many different antimicrobial drugs were used but penicillin plus chloramphenicol was the most commonly employed after the results of CSF microscopy were known and penicillin alone after culture results were available. Penicillin mono-therapy was associated with a low mortality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal* / complications
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal* / drug therapy
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal* / epidemiology
  • Meningitis, Pneumococcal* / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents