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Clinical data and cerebrospinal fluid findings in Lyme meningitis versus aseptic meningitis

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The purpose of this study was to characterise Lyme meningitis (LM) in a Belgian paediatric population and to suggest findings that could allow early distinction from aseptic meningitis (AM). The medical records of patients hospitalised between 1993 and 2000 and with a discharge diagnosis of LM (n=14) or AM (n=16) were retrospectively reviewed. The Kruskal–Wallis test was used to compare data. Of the patients, 16 were identified with AM and 14 with LM, amongst which 7 presented with isolated LM and 7 with associated peripheral facial palsy (PFP). Patients with AM, when compared with LM, complained of more pronounced signs and symptoms of meningitis (fever, headaches, and neck stiffness); they statistically displayed a shorter period of symptoms before admission (1.6 vs 15 days), higher neutrophilic component (mean 56% vs 2.4%), and lower protein levels (mean 0.39 vs 1.12 g/l) on cerebrospinal fluid analysis. In the neuroborreliosis group, the duration of symptoms was shorter and the cerebrospinal protein level was lower in cases of LM associated with PFP compared to isolated LM (mean 1.3 vs 15 days; mean 0.55 g/l vs 1.12 g/l). Conclusions. Our results suggest that some clinical data and laboratory findings may help the physician to diagnose aseptic or Lyme meningitis before completion of serologic testing. LM should be suspected in cases of meningitis with very low CSF neutrophilic counts and high protein levels associated with prolonged duration of symptoms, low grade fever, and absence of pronounced signs of meningitis.

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LM :

Lyme meningitis

AM :

aseptic meningitis


peripheral facial palsy


cerebrospinal fluid


white blood cell


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Correspondence to David Tuerlinckx.

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Tuerlinckx, D., Bodart, E., Garrino, MG. et al. Clinical data and cerebrospinal fluid findings in Lyme meningitis versus aseptic meningitis. Eur J Pediatr 162, 150–153 (2003).

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