July 1958

Meningitis Caused by an Unclassified Gram-Negative Bacterium in Newborn Infants

Author Affiliations

From the Communicable Disease Center, Bureau of State Services, Public Health Service, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, Surveillance Section, Epidemiology Branch, CDC (Dr. Brody); formerly Epidemiologist, Surveillance Section, CDC;; present address: U. S. O. M., La Paz, Bolivia (Dr. Moore); Bacteriologist, Diagnostic Bacteriology Unit, CDC, Chamblee, Ga. (Miss King).

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1958;96(1):1-5. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1958.02060060003001

Bacterial meningitis has not been reported as a frequent cause of death in premature or full-term newborn infants.1-4 The cases which do occur have not appeared in epidemic form and have been caused in the majority of instances by one of the coliform form groups of bacteria. It is of some interest, therefore, that within the past year two outbreaks of a lethal form of meningitis have occurred in hospital nurseries, involving primarily premature infants. The causative agent has not yet been completely defined, but a Gram-negative bacillus was recovered from the spinal fluid of 17 of the 19 victims.

Between June, 1956, and July, 1957, twelve cases occurred in Greenville, S. C., with eight deaths, three surviving hydrocephalics, and only one complete recovery. In Portsmouth, Va., seven cases of meningitis appeared in nursery populations from October, 1956, to October, 1957, all of whom died. Three cultures from Portsmouth

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