Bacterial meningitis in Africa

AM Tutu-van Furth, Ursula Rohlwink, S. D. Zaharie, M van der Kuip

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Bacterial meningitis differs globally, and the incidence and case fatality rates vary by region, country, pathogen, and age group; being a life-threatening disease with a high case fatality rate and long-term complications in low-income countries. Africa has the most significant prevalence of bacterial meningitis illness, and the outbreaks typically vary with the season and the geographic location, with a high incidence in the meningitis belt of the sub-Saharan area from Senegal to Ethiopia. Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) are the main etiological agents of bacterial meningitis in adults and children above the age of one. Streptococcus agalactiae (group B Streptococcus), Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus are neonatal meningitis's most common causal agents. Despite efforts to vaccinate against the most common causes of bacterial neuro-infections, bacterial meningitis remains a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in Africa, with children below 5 years bearing the heaviest disease burden. The factors attributed to this continued high disease burden include poor infrastructure, continued war, instability, and difficulty in diagnosis of bacterial neuro-infections leading to delay in treatment and hence high morbidity. Despite having the highest disease burden, there is a paucity of African data on bacterial meningitis. In this article, we discuss the common etiologies of bacterial neuroinfectious diseases, diagnosis and the interplay between microorganisms and the immune system, and the value of neuroimmune changes in diagnostics and therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number822575
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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