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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 63  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 209--214

Scrub typhus meningitis: An under-recognized cause of aseptic meningitis in India

Department of General Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Kundavaram Paul Prabhakar Abhilash
Department of Medicine 4, Christian Medical College, Vellore - 632 004, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.156282

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Background: Central nervous system (CNS) involvement in scrub typhus is seen in up to a quarter of patients. However, the literature on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis and outcome in meningitis/meningo-encephalitis due to scrub typhus is scant. Materials and Methods: This retrospective study included patients who were admitted to a medical college hospital with scrub typhus meningitis/meningo-encephalitis between 2005 and 2011. The clinical and laboratory profile, details of CSF analysis and outcome were documented. Results: The study included 189 patients with meningitis/meningo-encephalitis due to scrub typhus. The mean age of the patients was 41 ± 4 years. The mean duration of fever before presentation was 9.4 ± 3 days. The common presenting complaints were headache (64.2%), nausea/vomiting (60%), altered sensorium (53.7%) and seizures (22.1%). The presence of an eschar was documented in 27.5% of the patients. The mean CSF white blood count was 80 cells/cu mm (range: 5-740). There was a clear lymphocyte predominance (mean 87.6%). The mean CSF protein level was 105 mg% (range: 13-640). The mean CSF sugar level was 63.9 mg% (range 25-350), and was less than 40 mg% in 11.1% of the cases. The case fatality rate was 5.8% (11/189). Univariate analysis showed the presence of an eschar (15.4% vs 2.2%; Odds Ratio [OR]: 8.1) and altered sensorium (9.8% vs 1.1%; OR: 9.2) to be significant predictors of mortality. Conclusions: In endemic regions, scrub typhus should be considered in the differential diagnosis of aseptic meningitis. Modest elevation of cells in the CSF with lymphocytic pleocytosis and multi-organ involvement may indicate scrub typhus meningitis/meningo-encephalitis.


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