OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that enterovirus meningitis (EM) is a frequent and self-limiting condition, the epidemiology of EM in adults was examined.
METHODS: Using a prospective, nationwide, population-based database, all adults with EM confirmed by PCR of the CSF from 2015 to 2019 were included. Unfavorable outcome was defined as Glasgow Outcome Scale scores of 1-4 at discharge. Modified Poisson regression was used to compute adjusted relative risks (RRs).
RESULTS: A total of 419 cases of EM in 418 adults (46% female, median age 31 years [interquartile range (IQR) 27-35]) yielded an incidence of 1.80/100,000/year. Admission diagnoses included CNS infection 247/397 (62%), other neurologic conditions 89/397 (22%), and cerebrovascular diseases 33/397 (8%). Genotype was available for 271 cases, of which echovirus 30 accounted for 155 (57%). Patients presented with headache 412/415 (99%), history of fever 303/372 (81%), photophobia 292/379 (77%), and neck stiffness 159/407 (39%). Fever (≥38.0°C) was observed in 192/399 (48%) at admission. The median CSF leukocyte count was 130 106/L (range 0-2,100) with polymorphonuclear predominance (>50%) in 110/396 (28%). Cranial imaging preceded lumbar puncture in 127/417 (30%) and was associated with non-CNS infection admission diagnoses and delayed lumbar puncture (median 4.8 hours [IQR 3.4-7.9] vs 1.5 [IQR 0.8-2.8], p < 0.001). Unfavorable outcome occurred in 99/419 (24%) at discharge; more often in female patients (RR 2.30 [1.58-3.33]) and less frequent in echovirus 30 (RR 0.67 [0.46-1.00]) in adjusted analyses. Outcome remained unfavorable in 22/379 (6%) after 6 months.
CONCLUSIONS: EM is common among young, healthy adults. Although the long-term prognosis remains reassuring, a substantial proportion have moderate disability at discharge, especially female patients.