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Characteristics of pediatric patients with enterovirus meningitis and no cerebral fluid pleocytosis


Human non-polio enterovirus (EV) is the most important cause of aseptic meningitis in children. Only a few studies report the lack of cerobrospinal fluid (CSF) pleocytosis in children with confirmed EV meningitis; however, the characteristics of these children have not been well defined. This paper describes the clinical and laboratory features of EV meningitis in children with no CSF pleocytosis. Clinical, laboratory, and virological data of Dutch patients <16 years diagnosed with EV meningitis, between 2003 and 2008, were analyzed retrospectively. Data of children with and without CSF pleocytosis were compared. A total of 149 children were infected with EV. Patients presented mainly with fever (n = 113), malaise (n = 43), abdominal pain (n = 47), and irritability (n = 61). Of the 60 patients with EV meningitis, 23 had no pleocytosis. Those who lacked CSF pleocytosis were younger [odds ratio (OR) 1.00; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.000–1.002; p = 0.001], had experienced drowsiness more (OR 9.60; 95% CI 2.24–41.15; p = 0.002), had lower white blood cell counts (OR 0.73; 95% CI 0.61–0.89; p = 0.001), and had higher C-reactive protein (OR 1.13; 95% CI 1.03–1.23; p = 0.006) than those with pleocytosis. Conclusion. These findings show that EV meningitis occurs in the absence of CSF pleocytosis, particularly in young infants, meaning that EV meningitis in this age group cannot be solely excluded by the absence of CSF pleocytosis. They also confirm the importance of genome detection in the diagnosis of EV meningitis in young infants.

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We thank Dr. A.J.C.M. van der Velden, Pediatrician, Franciscus Hospital Roosendaal, for providing the clinical charts of patients from his hospital. We thank M.A. Verboon-Maciolek for critical reading of the manuscript.

Statement of competing interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Correspondence to Stephanie C. M. de Crom.

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de Crom, S.C.M., van Furth, M.A.M., Peeters, M.F. et al. Characteristics of pediatric patients with enterovirus meningitis and no cerebral fluid pleocytosis. Eur J Pediatr 171, 795–800 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-011-1626-z

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  • Enterovirus
  • Children
  • Meningitis
  • Pleocytosis
  • Cerebrospinal fluid