Zoonotic bacterial meningitis in adult humans

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

  1. van Samkar A, Brouwer MC, van der Ende A, van de Beek D. Zoonotic bacterial meningitis in human adults. Neurology Epub 2016 Aug 17.
Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen Birbeck is a neurologist who divides her time between the US and Africa. Her US academic home is the University of Rochester where she is the Rykenboer Professor of Neurology and Research Director for the Strong Epilepsy Center with adjunct appointments in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics and the Department of Public Health. Her additional skills in epidemiology, health services research, and tropical medicine are brought to bear during the 6-months annually she spends in Africa where she serves as Director for the Chikankata Epilepsy Care Team in rural Mazabuka, Zambia, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Zambia and a consultant for the Paediatric Research Ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Gretchen’s research programs are aimed at identifying opportunities to prevent or ameliorate the medical and social morbidities of common neurologic conditions in low-income, tropical settings with the ultimate goal of developing successful interventions feasible for scale up and broad implementation. She has been recognized as an Ambassador for Epilepsy by the International League against Epilepsy, a Global Health Research Ambassador by the US Paul Rogers Society, a National Outreach Scholar by the WK Kellogg Foundation and a Leader in Medicine by the American Medical Students Association.

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