A retrospective analysis of 10 adult patients with community-acquired Staphylococcus aureus meningitis was performed in order to elucidate the characteristics and treatment of this lethal disease. In all patients, a focus of infection outside the central nervous system was apparent at presentation. A poor prognosis was associated with severe underlying disease, greater degree of hyponatremia at presentation, development of seizures, failure of nuchal rigidity to develop, persistent or recurrent bacteremia, and the presence of concurrent S. aureus bronchopneumonia. Degree of deterioration in mental status and cerebrospinal fluid pleocytosis, protein levels, and glucose levels did not appear to have any prognostic significance. Therapy with rifampin and a semisynthetic penicillin effected a cure in all six patients treated with this regimen. In contrast, three of four patients treated with other antibiotic combinations died. On the basis of this experience, it is concluded that further trials with rifampin in combination with another anti-staphylococcal antibiotic for the treatment of S. aureus meningitis are warranted.
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