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Lancet Infect Dis. 2008 Jun;8(6):390-8. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(08)70127-0.

Spectrum of CNS disease caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.


We present a case of a patient with chronic meningoencephalitis caused by Mycobacterium abscessus. We also summarise the clinical features and outcomes of cases of CNS infection caused by rapidly growing mycobacteria that have been described in the literature. Rapidly growing mycobacteria are notorious for causing skin and soft-tissue infections after trauma or surgery, pulmonary disease in patients with cystic fibrosis, and disseminated disease in immunocompromised patients. CNS infection with this organism is extremely rare. Patients usually present with subacute to chronic meningitis, neutrophilic pleocytosis, and have a history of trauma or neurosurgery. The smears are often negative for acid-fast organisms, but may show Gram-positive rods. Treatment requires a long course of two or more antibiotics that have the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and possibly of steroids as immunomodulatory agents, such as those used in tuberculous meningitis.

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