Anthrax meningoencephalitis: A case report and review of Turkish literature

ArticleinMikrobiyoloji bülteni 43(4):671-6 · October 2009with4 Reads
Impact Factor: 0.65 · Source: PubMed


    The incidence of anthrax is decreasing in Turkey, however, it is still endemic in some regions of the country. Although central nervous system involvement is rare in cases with anthrax, high mortality rates are significant. Here, we report a 46-years old woman who was anthrax meningoencephalitis. The patient was from Yozgat located in Central Anatolia, Turkey. Her history revealed that following peeling the skin of sheeps and consuming their meat a week ago, a lesion developed in her left forearm and she had been treated with penicilin G with the diagnosis of cutaneous anthrax in a local health center. The patient was admitted to the emergency room of our hospital due to increased headache and loss of conciousness and diagnosed as anthrax meningitis. Crytallized penicilin G (24 MU/day IV) and vancomycin (2 g/day IV) were initiated. The macroscopy of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample was haemorrhagic, white blood cell count was 40/mm3 (80% of neutrophil) and Gram staining of CSF yielded abundant gram-positive bacilli. The diagnosis was confirmed by the isolation of Bacillus anthracis from CSF culture. Although the isolate was susceptible to penicillin and dexamethasone was added to the treatment, the patient died. Review of the Turkish literature revealed seven cases of anthrax with central nervous system involvement between 1980-2008. One of the patients was an 11-years old boy and the others were adults aged between 19 and 64 years. The source of the infection was skin in four patients and inhalation in one patient. The most common findings in all of the patients were inhabitance in rural area, haemorrhagic CSF and loss of all patients despite appropriate antibiotic therapy. In conclusion, anthrax meningitis and meningoencephalitis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of haemorrhagic meningitis in areas where anthrax is endemic and high rate of mortality despite appropriate therapy should always be kept in mind.