With the improvement of public health, eosinophilic meningitis associated with Angiostrongylus cantonensis infection is now seldom reported in Taiwan. Eosinophilic meningitis typically occurred sporadically in children. This study aims to analyze the clinical manifestations and change in the contemporary epidemiology of eosinophilic meningitis in Taiwan.
This is a retrospective study of patients diagnosed with eosinophilic meningitis at Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital, from December 1991 to September 2009. The demographic characteristics, clinical presentations, laboratory data, radiographic imaging, and treatment and clinical outcome were analyzed. A PubMed search with the keywords of eosinophilic meningitis, A cantonensis, and Taiwan was performed to retrieve cases of eosinophilic meningitis caused by A cantonensis since 1960.
Thirty-seven patients were diagnosed to have eosinophilic meningitis during a period of 18 years. The median age was 32 years (range, 2-80 years). Ninety five percent (35/37) of the patients were adults. The median incubation period was 10.5 days (range, 3-80 days). Most of the patients presented with headache (29, 78%), fever (25, 68%), and 11(30%) had hyperesthesia. Patients with hyperesthesia had longer incubation period (55 vs. 7 days, p=0.004), lower serum immunoglobulin E levels (127.5 vs. 1295 IU/mL, p<0.001), and longer duration between symptom onset and spinal taps (14 vs. 5 days, p=0.011). Three patients presented initially with lymphocytic meningitis, and eosinophilia only appeared on a second lumbar puncture. Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain disclosed leptomeningeal enhancement (17/26, 65%) and increased signal intensity (10/26, 38%) on T2-weighted and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images. There were eight relapses and two patients died. No sequela was noted except in one 2-year-old toddler, who had weakness of both lower limbs.
The epidemiology of eosinophilic meningitis has changed during the past two decades in Taiwan and occurs mainly in adults in the setting of outbreaks. Hyperesthesia; repeated lumbar puncture in cases with lymphocytic meningitis of uncertain cause; and a detailed history, including food consumption, are important to establish an accurate diagnosis.