Clinical features and prognostic factors in adults with viral meningitis

Pelle Trier Petersen, Jacob Bodilsen, Micha Phill Grønholm Jepsen, Lykke Larsen, Merete Storgaard, Birgitte Rønde Hansen, Jannik Helweg-Larsen, Lothar Wiese, Hans Rudolf Lüttichau, Christian Østergaard Andersen, Henrik Nielsen, Christian Thomas Brandt, Danish Study Group of Infections of the Brain (DASGIB)

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Clinical features applicable to the entire spectrum of viral meningitis are limited, and prognostic factors for adverse outcomes are undetermined. This nationwide population-based prospective cohort study included all adults with presumed and microbiologically confirmed viral meningitis in Denmark from 2015 until 2020. Prognostic factors for an unfavourable outcome (Glasgow Outcome Scale score of 1-4) 30 days after discharge were examined by modified Poisson regression. In total, 1066 episodes of viral meningitis were included, yielding a mean annual incidence of 4.7 episodes per 100 000 persons. Pathogens were enteroviruses in 419/1066 (39%), herpes simplex virus type 2 in 171/1066 (16%), varicella-zoster virus in 162/1066 (15%), miscellaneous viruses in 31/1066 (3%) and remained unidentified in 283/1066 (27%). The median age was 33 years (IQR 27-44), and 576/1066 (54%) were females. In herpes simplex virus type 2 meningitis, 131/171 (77%) were females. Immunosuppression [32/162 (20%)] and shingles [90/149 (60%)] were frequent in varicella-zoster virus meningitis. The triad of headache, neck stiffness and hyperacusis or photophobia was present in 264/960 (28%). The median time until lumbar puncture was 3.0 h (IQR 1.3-7.1), and the median CSF leucocyte count was 160 cells/µl (IQR 60-358). The outcome was unfavourable in 216/1055 (20%) 30 days after discharge. Using unidentified pathogen as the reference, the adjusted relative risk of an unfavourable outcome was 1.34 (95% CI 0.95-1.88) for enteroviruses, 1.55 (95% CI 1.00-2.41) for herpes simplex virus type 2, 1.51 (95% CI 0.98-2.33) for varicella-zoster virus and 1.37 (95% CI 0.61-3.05) for miscellaneous viruses. The adjusted relative risk of an unfavourable outcome was 1.34 (95% CI 1.03-1.75) for females. Timing of acyclovir or valacyclovir was not associated with the outcome in meningitis caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 or varicella-zoster virus. In summary, the outcome of viral meningitis was similar among patients with different aetiologies, including those with presumed viral meningitis but without an identified pathogen. Females had an increased risk of an unfavourable outcome. Early antiviral treatment was not associated with an improved outcome in meningitis caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 or varicella-zoster virus.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain
Volume146
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)3816-3825
Number of pages10
ISSN0006-8950
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

Keywords

  • aseptic meningitis
  • herpesviridae
  • tick-borne encephalitis
  • toscana virus
  • virology

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