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Bacterial meningitis is a life threatening inflammation of the meninges, which most commonly affects children under 2 (especially those under 3 months). It is a notifiable disease in the UK.
This article, based on BMJ Best Practice, covers assessment of and initial management of suspected bacterial meningitis acquired by children in the community; the condition may also be associated with invasive procedures or head trauma, but meningitis associated with healthcare, and infants with meningitis in neonatal units, are beyond the scope of the article.
A 2018 study reported the overall incidence of bacterial meningitis in western countries as 0.7 to 0.9 per 100 000 people per year. Incidence has decreased by 3% to 4% since the 1990s.1 In the UK, 2594 cases of meningitis (due to any cause) were reported in children from 2004 to 2011. The overall incidence in African countries is 10-40 per 100 000 people per year.1 The incidence of culture-proven bacterial meningitis in newborns is estimated at 0.3 per 1000 live births in developed countries.2
Widespread immunisation programmes in the UK and other developed countries, particularly the use of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) …