Paediatric meningitis in the western Cape. A 3-year hospital-based prospective survey
Between July 1981 and June 1984 1223 cases of meningitis were seen in the Department of Paediatrics, Tygerberg Hospital. The commonest form in each population group was aseptic meningitis. Positive viral cultures were obtained from the CSF in 108 cases. The median age of white children with aseptic meningitis, 64 months, was significantly greater than that of coloured children, 45 months (P > 0,0001), and black children, 26 months (P > 0,014). The commonest cause of confirmed bacterial meningitis was Neisseria meningitidis (140 cases; 11,5%), which continues to affect mainly young coloured children (median age 16,9 months). Resistance to sulphonamides was found among 21% of 114 N. meningitidis isolates. Among white children Haemophilus influenzae was responsible for 9 of the 18 cases of confirmed bacterial meningitis. Tuberculosis was responsible for 62 cases of meningitis (5%) and was a commoner cause of meningitis than either H. influenzae (47 cases) or Streptococcus pneumoniae (34 cases). Thirty-four confirmed cases of bacterial meningitis were seen in children less than 1 month old. Klebsiella species were responsible for 8 cases (24%), Escherichia coli for 6 cases (12%), group B β-haemolytic Streptococcus for 5 cases (15%) while 4 cases each were due to N. meningitidis and S. pneumoniae.