April 1990

Bacterial Meningitis in Older Children

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(4):463-465. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150280085016

• A review was performed of 25 cases of bacterial meningitis in previously healthy children aged 6 years or older during a 10-year period. The rate of infection in this age group relative to all cases of pediatric bacterial meningitis was 4%. Pathogens included Haemophilus influenzae type b in 10 cases (40%), Neisseria meningitidis in 9 cases (36%), and Streptococcus pneumoniae in 6 cases (24%). Physical findings revealed 21 patients (84%) with some degree of altered consciousness and 25 patients (100%) with nuchal rigidity. In all instances, the cerebrospinal fluid exhibited pleocytosis with a predominance of polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Eleven patients (44%) were afebrile on presentation. Of 22 surviving patients, 10 (45%) were afebrile without subsequent fever after administration of the initial dose of antibiotics, in 5 (23%) fever resolved within 24 hours, and in 6 (27%) fever resolved within 48 hours of treatment; there was no instance of prolonged or secondary fever noted. Death occurred in 3 cases (12%). Bacterial meningitis is uncommon in older children. As compared with younger children, older children with bacterial meningitis commonly present without fever and tend to have their fever resolve shortly after effective antibiotic therapy is initiated without manifesting prolonged or secondary fever patterns. Haemophilus influenzae type b is a common cause of bacterial meningitis in children aged 6 years or older; empirical antibiotic therapy in this clinical situation should include treatment of this pathogen.

(AJDC. 1990;144:463-465)