Accuracy of initial clinical diagnosis of acute bacterial meningitis in children from a malaria-endemic area of Papua New Guinea

J. Aipit, M. Laman, I. Hwaiwhanje, C. Bona, N. Pomat, P.M. Siba, Timothy Davis, Laurens Manning

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    Abstract

    Background: The diagnosis of acute bacterial meningitis (ABM) is challenging in resource-limited settings where cerebral malaria and viral encephalitis are also common. Methods: To assess the accuracy of an initial clinical diagnosis of ABM in a malaria-endemic area of Papua New Guinea (PNG), a retrospective chart review of hospitalized children aged 2 months to 10 years was conducted. Results: Of the 481 eligible children, 240 had an initial clinical diagnosis of ABM that was confirmed independently by trained research staff under standardized conditions, with laboratory support in only 84 (17.5%; 84/481). When compared with the final laboratory-confirmed diagnosis, an initial diagnosis of ABM had a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of 76% (95% CI 66-85%), 56% (95% CI 51-61%), 27% (95% CI 21-33) and 92% (95% CI 87-95%), respectively. There was discordance between initial and final diagnosis of ABM in 196 children; 176 initially considered to have ABM had an alternative diagnosis, while 20 without an initial diagnosis of ABM were confirmed to have ABM. Conclusion: These data show that initial misdiagnosis of ABM is common in a malaria-endemic area of PNG. A diagnostic algorithm using standardized assessment for meningeal irritation, coma and malaria parasitological testing needs further evaluation in this setting. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)444-448
    JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
    Volume108
    Issue number7
    Early online date3 May 2014
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

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