Epidemiology of enteroviral meningoencephalitis in neonates and young infants
Aim To describe the epidemiology of enteroviral meningoencephalitis in northern New South Wales, Australia, with a specific focus on neonatal and young infant cases. Methods A retrospective review of PCR-confirmed enteroviral meningoencephalitis cases in the Hunter New England Local Health District of northern NSW was conducted for the period 2008-2012. Results One hundred nine patients met the case definition. There was summer seasonality, with 50% (55/109) of cases occurring between December and February. Neonates and young infants (age) accounted for 42% (46/109) of cases, with 20% (9/46) being premature births. Fever (83%) was the most common presentation in this age group, followed by irritability (40%), feeding difficulties (40%) and rash (17%). All received at least one antibiotic during their admission, with 26% (12/46) also treated empirically with acyclovir. There was one death. Where testing was undertaken, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protein levels were high in 90% (28/31) of neonates and young infants, but the CSF white cell count was variable, with 57% <10/mm3 and 21% >100/mm3. Conclusion Early diagnosis of enteroviral meningoencephalitis could alter management, potentially reducing the period of treatment with empirical antimicrobials and permitting earlier discharge.