, Volume 158, Issue 11, pp 875-878

Pasteurella multocida meningitis in infancy – (a lick may be as bad as a bite)

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Abstract

Pasteurella multocida is the commonest cause of local infection after an animal bite, but is an unusual cause of meningitis. We report a case of P. multocida meningitis occurring in a 7-week-old infant which was contracted after non-traumatic contact with a household pet, that is, without any animal bite or scratch. The organism may be easily confused with more common Gram-negative pathogens. In this case, it was initially incorrectly diagnosed as Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib); a possibility which has important implications in the era of routine use of Hib vaccine in infant immunisation programs.

Conclusion Pasteurella multocida is an unusual, but serious cause of meningitis in infancy. It is potentially preventable by the avoidance of contact between young infants and the saliva of household pets, in particular by assiduous hand hygiene.

Received: 13 March 1998 / Accepted in revised form: 17 February 1999