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Bacterial Infections of the Central Nervous System

Roos, Karen L. MD, FAAN

CONTINUUM: Lifelong Learning in Neurology:
doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000242
Review Articles

Purpose of Review:: Bacterial infections of the central nervous system are neurologic emergencies. Prompt recognition and treatment are essential not only to prevent mortality, but also to decrease neurologic sequelae. This article focuses on the two most common central nervous system bacterial infections, bacterial meningitis and spinal epidural abscess.

Recent Findings:: Two outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease have occurred on US college campuses. The meningococcal vaccine given to young adults does not contain serogroup B.

Summary:: In bacterial meningitis and in bacterial spinal epidural abscess, the identification of and eradication of the pathogen with antimicrobial therapy is the easy part. It is the recognition of the disorder, the understanding of which diagnostic studies to obtain and their limitations, and the management of the neurologic complications that require the expertise of a neurologist.

Author Information

Address correspondence to Dr Karen L. Roos, Indiana University Neuroscience Center, 355 West 16th Street, Suite 4215, Indianapolis, IN 46202,

Relationship Disclosure: Dr Roos has received personal compensation as a senior associate editor from MedLink Neurology and for speaking engagements from Emory University, Marian University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Virginia. Dr Roos receives royalties from Elsevier B.V. and Springer.

Unlabeled Use of Products/Investigational Use Disclosure: Dr Roos reports no disclosure.

© 2015 American Academy of Neurology