The epidemiology and outcomes of central nervous system infections in Far North Queensland, tropical Australia; 2000-2019

Gora, Hannah, Smith, Simon, Wilson, Ian, Preston-Thomas, Annie, Ramsamy, Nicole, and Hanson, Joshua (2022) The epidemiology and outcomes of central nervous system infections in Far North Queensland, tropical Australia; 2000-2019. PLoS ONE, 17 (3). e0265410.

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Background: The epidemiology of central nervous system (CNS) infections in tropical Australia is incompletely defined.

Methods: A retrospective study of all individuals in Far North Queensland, tropical Australia, who were diagnosed with a CNS infection between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2019. The microbiological aetiology of the infection was correlated with patients' demographic characteristics and their clinical course.

Results: There were 725 cases of CNS infection during the study period, meningitis (77.4%) was the most common, followed by brain abscess (11.6%), encephalitis (9.9%) and spinal infection (1.1%). Infants (24.3%, p<0.0001) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (175/666 local residents, 26.3%, p<0.0001) were over-represented in the cohort. A pathogen was identified in 513 cases (70.8%); this was viral in 299 (41.2%), bacterial in 175 (24.1%) and fungal in 35 (4.8%). Cryptococcal meningitis (24 cases) was diagnosed as frequently as pneumococcal meningitis (24 cases). There were only 2 CNS infections with a S. pneumoniae serotype in the 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine after its addition to the National Immunisation schedule in 2011. Tropical pathogens-including Cryptococcus species (9/84, 11%), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (7/84, 8%) and Burkholderia pseudomallei (5/ 84, 6%)-were among the most common causes of brain abscess. However, arboviral CNS infections were rare, with only one locally acquired case-a dengue infection in 2009-diagnosed in the entire study period. Intensive Care Unit admission was necessary in 14.3%; the overall case fatality rate was 4.4%.

Conclusion: Tropical pathogens cause CNS infections as commonly as traditional bacterial pathogens in this region of tropical Australia. However, despite being highlighted in the national consensus guidelines, arboviruses were identified very rarely. Prompt access to sophisticated diagnostic and supportive care in Australia's well-resourced public health system is likely to have contributed to the cohort's low case-fatality rate.

Item ID: 74588
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Copyright Information: © 2022 Gora et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2022 01:27
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3209 Neurosciences > 320903 Central nervous system @ 30%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4202 Epidemiology > 420202 Disease surveillance @ 70%
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