Meningitis in children in Fiji: Etiology, epidemiology, and neurological sequelae

Viema Lewagalu Biaukula, Lisi Tikoduadua, Kristy Azzopardi, Anna Seduadua, Beth Temple, Peter C Richmond, Roy M Robins-Browne, Edward (Kim) MULHOLLAND, Fiona Russell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objectives: To describe the etiology, epidemiology, neurological sequelae, and quality of life of children aged 1 month to less than 5 years admitted with meningitis to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWMH), Suva, Fiji. 

    Methods: Over a 3-year period, all eligible children with suspected meningitis admitted to CWMH had blood drawn for culture. Of these children, those for whom is was possible were tested for a four-fold rise in antibody titers to Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcal surface adhesin A (PsaA). Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was taken for bacteriological culture and antigen testing. CSF was also tested by PCR for Streptococcus species, Neisseria meningitidis, Hib, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and enterovirus. Pneumococcal isolates were serotyped using multiplex-PCR reverse-line blot hybridization. Following discharge, cases underwent a neurological assessment, audiometry, and quality of life assessment (Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) tool). 

    Results: There were 70 meningitis cases. Meningitis was more common in indigenous Fijian than Indo-Fijian children. Enterovirus was the most common etiological agent and appeared to be outbreak-associated. Streptococcus pneumoniae was the most common bacterial cause of meningitis with an annual incidence of 9.9 per 100 000 under 5 years old (95% confidence interval 4.9-17.7) and a case fatality rate of 36%. With the exception of deafness, neurological sequelae were more frequent in cases of bacterial meningitis than in viral meningitis (18.5% vs. 0%, p=. 0.04). Quality of life at follow-up was significantly lower in patients with bacterial meningitis than in those with viral meningitis (. p=. 0.003) or meningitis of unknown etiology (. p=. 0.004). 

    Conclusions: During the study period an outbreak of enterovirus occurred making it the most common etiological agent identified. However in the absence of this outbreak, S. pneumoniae was the most common cause of childhood meningitis in Fiji. Bacterial meningitis is associated with serious sequelae and a reduced quality of life. 
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e289-e295
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


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