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The spectrum of aseptic central nervous system infections in southern Germany - demographic, clinical and laboratory findings

Eur J Neurol. 2017 Jun 21. doi: 10.1111/ene.13335. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Kaminski M, Grummel V, Hoffmann D, Berthele A, Hemmer B.
Publication Date: 2017



Aseptic infections of the central nervous system (CNS) are frequently observed in Germany. However, no study has systematically addressed the spectrum of aseptic CNS infections in Germany.

Data on 191 adult patients diagnosed from January 2007 to December 2014 with aseptic meningitis or encephalitis/meningoencephalitis at our hospital were collected by chart review and analyzed for demographic, clinical and laboratory findings. Patients were stratified according to the causative virus and findings were compared between groups.

In our cohort, meningitis was caused in 36% by enterovirus (EV), 15% by herpes simplex virus (HSV), 12% by varicella zoster virus (VZV) and 5% by tick borne encephalitis (TBE). Encephalitis/meningoencephalitis was caused in 13% by HSV, 13% by VZV, and three out of 11 tested patients were positive for TBE. The highest incidence of EV infections was between 25 and 35 years and of HSV infections between 30 and 60 years. VZV infections had a bimodal distribution peaking below 30 and above 70 years. VZV and EV infections were more frequently observed during summer, whereas HSV infections showed no seasonal preference. Inflammatory changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were highest in HSV and lowest in EV infections.

Polymerase chain reaction tests for HSV, VZV and EV in CSF and TBE serology determined the causative virus in over 60% of tested patients. The age of affected patients, seasonal distribution, disease course and inflammatory changes in CSF differ between groups of patients affected by the most common viral infections.

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