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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2012 Oct;31(10):2661-6. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Arthritis related to systemic meningococcal disease: 34 years' experience.

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Infectious Diseases Service, IDIBELL-Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain.


The purpose of this investigation was to assess the clinical characteristics, therapeutic aspects, and outcome of arthritis related to invasive meningococcal disease (IMD). All episodes of bacterial meningitis and IMD are recorded systematically. We selected all episodes of IMD, with or without meningitis, that presented arthritis. From 1977 to 2010, 522 episodes of IMD were treated. Thirty-nine of these (7.5 %, 26 women, mean age 33 years) presented arthritis. Of these 39, 37 (95 %) presented skin lesions and 31 (79 %) had meningitis. Twenty (51 %) had positive blood cultures and six (15 %) had shock. No differences were found in skin lesions, shock, or bacteremia compared to cases without arthritis. In contrast to other septic forms, arthritis related to IMD was cured with short antibiotic therapy and without surgical drainage. There was no mortality. All patients recovered and none presented joint sequelae; however, 13 adult patients (33 %) required long-term treatment with steroids due to persistent symptoms. Arthritis related to IMD most frequently affects the knees and ankles, and may be a cause of fever relapse. Short antibiotic therapy is enough in all cases and surgical drainage is not needed. In some adult patients, especially those over 50 years of age, evolution is torpid and steroid therapy may be required in order to achieve recovery.

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