Culture- and antigen-negative meningitis in Guatemalan children

Erica L. Dueger, Edwin J. Asturias, Neal A. Halsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective. To compare children with confirmed bacterial meningitis (CBM) and those with culture- and latex-negative meningitis (CLN). Methods. Children 1 to 59 months of age admitted to three major referral hospitals in Guatemala City with clinical signs compatible with bacterial infections were evaluated prospectively between 1 October 1996 and 31 December 2005. Bacterial cultures and latex agglutination antigen testing were performed on samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Results. The case-fatality rate was significantly higher in the 493 children with CBM than in the 528 children with CLN (27.6% and 14.9%, respectively; P < 0.001). Children with CBM were less likely to have received antibiotics and more likely to have seizures, shock, or coma on admission than children with CLN. Among the 182 CBM survivors and 205 CLN survivors studied between October 2000 and December 2005, clinically observed sequelae were present at discharge in a higher percentage of the CBM than of the CLN group (78.6% and 46.8%, respectively; P < 0.0001). CSF glucose < 10 mg/dL, peripheral neutrophils < 2 000 cells/mm3, coma or shock at admission, and concurrent sepsis or pneumonia were risk factors for mortality in children with CBM; only coma or shock at admission predicted mortality in children with CLN. Conclusions. The high case-fatality and sequelae rates suggest that many children with CLN may have had bacterial meningitis. Estimates based on confirmed meningitis alone underestimate the true vaccine-preventable disease burden. Additional studies to determine etiologies of CLN in this population are indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-255
Number of pages8
JournalRevista Panamericana de Salud Publica/Pan American Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Aseptic meningitis
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Guatemala
  • Viral meningitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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