Journal Article

Bacterial Meningitis in Aging Adults

Chester Choi

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 33, issue 8, pages 1380-1385
Published in print October 2001 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online October 2001 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI:
Bacterial Meningitis in Aging Adults

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  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology
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  • Microbiology


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Bacterial meningitis remains a highly lethal disease in older adults, with mortality rates averaging >20% despite modern antibiotic therapy. In this population, more variable presentations are seen, with fewer patients manifesting fever, neck stiffness, and headache than among younger adults. In addition, many older adults (aged ⩾60 years) may have other underlying diseases causing symptoms that may be confused with those of meningitis. The spectrum of etiologic bacterial organisms is more broad than that for a younger population, in part because of the increased frequency of severe underlying diseases and in part as a result of immunosenescence. Therapy is complicated by both the range of possible causative organisms and the increasing antibiotic resistance manifested by some. These difficulties, contrasted with the success of vaccination in the pediatric population, highlight the need for improved preventive strategies for older adults. This review outlines some key clinical points in the management of bacterial meningitis in the older adult.

Journal Article.  3696 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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