A retrospective study of infants with bacterial meningitis admitted to our hospital during 1949-52, highlighted the lack of 'classical' signs of meningitis in these infants. We carried out a similar review of 44 infants aged less than three months, admitted during 1982-91. We also determined the causative organisms and their antibiotic sensitivities. Symptoms and signs were similar in the two series. Forty infants in the later series were either febrile, irritable or had seizures on the day of admission. Overall mortality fell from 30% to 11%. Between 1982 and 1991 Group B Streptocococcus and Neisseria meningitidis were the commonest causes of meningitis. All organisms, except one, were sensitive to ampicillin and/or cefotaxime. Bacterial meningitis should be suspected in young infants who are febrile, irritable or having seizures. Initial treatment with ampicillin and cefotaxime is appropriate.
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