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Clin Microbiol Rev. 2008 Jul;21(3):519-37. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00009-08.

Epidemiology, etiology, pathogenesis, and diagnosis of recurrent bacterial meningitis.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.


Recurrent bacterial meningitis is a rare phenomenon and generally poses a considerable diagnostic challenge to the clinician. Ultimately, a structured approach and early diagnosis of any underlying pathology are crucial to prevent further episodes and improve the overall outcome for the affected individual. In this article, we are reviewing the existing literature on this topic over the last two decades, encompassing 363 cases of recurrent bacterial meningitis described in 144 publications. Of these cases, 214 (59%) were related to anatomical problems, 132 (36%) were related to immunodeficiencies, and 17 (5%) were related to parameningeal infections. The review includes a detailed discussion of the underlying pathologies and microbiological aspects as well as recommendations for appropriate diagnostic pathways for investigating this unusual entity.

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