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Pneumococcal meningitis in children

Elaine I Tuomanen, MD
Section Editors
Sheldon L Kaplan, MD
Douglas R Nordli, Jr, MD
Deputy Editor
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH


Meningitis is an inflammatory disease of the leptomeninges, the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The meninges consist of three parts: the pia, arachnoid, and dura mater. Meningitis reflects inflammation of the arachnoid mater and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in both the subarachnoid space and in the cerebral ventricles.

Suspected bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency, and immediate diagnostic steps must be taken to establish the specific cause so that appropriate antimicrobial therapy can be initiated. The mortality rate of untreated bacterial meningitis approaches 100 percent, and even with optimal therapy, morbidity and mortality may occur. Neurologic sequelae are common among survivors. Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of the most common causes of acute bacterial meningitis.

This topic reviews meningitis caused by S. pneumoniae (pneumococcal meningitis). The pathogenesis, epidemiology, clinical features, complications, diagnosis, and treatment of bacterial meningitis in neonates and older children are discussed separately:

(See "Pathogenesis and pathophysiology of bacterial meningitis".)

(See "Bacterial meningitis in the neonate: Clinical features and diagnosis".)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Aug 12, 2015.
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