Check out this interesting review article on zoonotic meningitides by van Samkar and colleagues from the Netherlands. They point out that zoonoses of this nature are relatively uncommon—but in reality in resource limited tropical settings, we don’t generally have the capacity to definitively diagnose zoonotic infections clinically and there are virtually no epidemiologic insights on this at all from low income settings. Key risk factors identified in the review include residence in sub-tropical regions, close exposure to animals, consumption of poorly prepared or unpasteurized animal products and an immunocompromised state. These are all very common exposures in sub-Saharan Africa given the ongoing HIV epidemic and rural living conditions that place humans in very close proximity to their domestic animals and livestock. Animals in sub-Saharan Africa often have sub-optimal health as well further increasing the risk of illness transmission to humans. Collaborations between clinical researchers and veterinary medicine specialists are needed to explore this further1
- van Samkar A, Brouwer MC, van der Ende A, van de Beek D. Zoonotic bacterial meningitis in human adults. Neurology Epub 2016 Aug 17.