Murine typhus presenting as subacute meningoencephalitis
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Murine typhus is a febrile systemic illness, presenting with headache and undulating fever. Neurological involvement is considered a rare complication. During 1994 and 1995, 34 patients admitted to our hospital were diagnosed as having murine typhus. Five of these patients presented with a syndrome of subacute “aseptic” meningitis or meningoencephalitis. Three had bilateral papilloedema and 2 had focal neurological signs. None had a rash or other systemic findings suggestive of rickettsial disease. The diagnosis was based on serum and cerebrospinal fluid serology and on prompt response to doxycycline therapy. These cases suggest that neurological involvement in murine typhus is more common than previously suspected and that murine typhus should be included in the differential diagnosis of subacute meningitis in endemic areas.
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