The aims of the study were to analyze the demographics, presentation, laboratory findings, and complications of pediatric Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis since the introduction of the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, to improve recognition, and to minimize patient morbidity and mortality.
This study used a retrospective analysis of pediatric pneumococcal meningitis cases at 2 tertiary healthcare systems in the Southeastern United States from 2010 to2018.
We describe 21 cases of pneumococcal meningitis. All patients presented with fever, 95% had altered mental status by history or examination, and 48% had meningeal signs. Forty-three percent had seen another provider within 48 hours of admission. Forty-eight percent had delay in lumbar puncture (LP) of more than 6 hours after antibiotic administration, decreasing rates of positive cerebrospinal fluid cultures from 100% to 40% (P < 0.001). Decision to delay LP was due to either low suspicion for meningitis (n = 4) or clinical instability (n = 6) and was associated with lower rates of meningeal signs (P = 0.014) and higher rates of altered mental status on examination (P = 0.031). Fourteen patients (67%) were up-to-date on pneumococcal immunization. Serotypes were determined in 16 cases, with 2 patients (13%) immunized against the strain that infected them. Primary outcomes included seizures (48%), hearing loss (48%), cranial nerve palsy (33%), and death (5%). Delay in LP with low suspicion for meningitis was associated with longer hospital length of stay approaching statistical significance (P = 0.053).
Pneumococcal meningitis remains a relevant and potentially fatal disease despite widespread use of 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Its diagnosis is often delayed during interactions with physicians, which may put patients at increased risk for poor clinical outcomes.