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Incidence and Distribution of the Pathogens Causing Central Nervous System Infections at the University Hospital of Korea by E. J. Nam, J. Y. Ham, K. E. Song, Y. K. Kim, N. Y. Lee

Background: The pathogens involved in central nervous system (CNS) infections are various, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi, so a syndromic approach can be required. In addition, since their rapid and accurate detection is very crucial, molecular diagnostics using cerebrospinal fluid is becoming the emerging standard method.
Methods: The study was conducted retrospectively to identify the incidence and distribution patterns of the pathogens according to gender, age, season, and month and to analyze their codetection from August 2017 to July 2020. It was also conducted to investigate turn-around times (TATs) according to the detection method. The detection methods were FilmArray® Meningitis/Encephalitis (M/E) method (FilmArray), Cepheid® Xpert EV assay (Xpert), and Multiplex PCR method for five species of bacteria.
Results: The overall incidence for at least one pathogen was 13.9% (346/2,496). The highest incidence was shown in age group 4 (3 - 6 years), with 27.4%. The detection rates by FilmArray, Xpert, and Multiplex PCR method were 39.8%, 41.7%, and 0.4%, respectively. Enterovirus (EV) showed the highest incidence rate, which accounted for 37.0%. The distribution of the pathogens according to the age groups were the highest in age group 4, with 47.5% (168/354), followed by 27.4% (97/354) in age group 5. Of the ten cases in which bacteria were detected, S. agalactiae accounted for 60.0% (6/10), most of which occurred in age group 1. E. coli K1, L. monocytogenes, and N. meningitidis were not detected. In the viral distribution, EV accounted for the highest proportion in all age groups. The overall proportion of EV accounted for 87.6% (310/354), followed by human parechovirus with 2.8% (10/354). The most commonly detected season was summer, comprising 75.1%. A total of eight cases of co-detection with two pathogens accounted for 1.6% (8/507) in FilmArray. In FilmArray, all TATs were found to be shorter than Xpert.
Conclusions: The information on the incidence and distribution patterns of the pathogens causing CNS infections and their rapid detection are critically important to clinicians in the management of immunocompromised patients, elderly, and children. The expeditious molecular diagnostics for these pathogens would be valuable in medical decisions by clinicians.

DOI: 10.7754/Clin.Lab.2020.201118