Introduction: Central nervous system (CNS) infections can be categorized according to the nature of the infectious pathogen into viral, bacterial, protozoan, or fungal. The diagnosis of diffuse CNS infections depends on examination of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) obtained by lumbar puncture (LP). The aim of this work was to determine the diagnostic value of CSF analysis in infants and children presenting with fever and convulsions. 

Methods: Detailed clinical data of infants and children included in this study were collected with special reference to the course and duration of the illness, description of the convulsions, consciousness level, signs of increased intracranial pressure, and signs of meningeal irritation. Lumbar puncture and chemical and bacteriological analyses of the obtained cerebrospinal fluid were done for all of the children.

Results: The total number of children included in the study was 85, they had a median age 19 months, and 88% of them had generalized convulsions. CSF examination revealed that 20% had abnormal physical findings, while 23.5% had abnormal white blood cell count (WBC) (CSF Pleocytosis). CSF cultures were done in three cases with the highest White blood cells (WBCs), and streptococcus pneumoniae was present in all three cases. 

Conclusion: This study found that CNS infections are not uncommon in infants and children presenting with fever and convulsions in our locality, and acute bacterial meningitis cannot be excluded. However, its presence in the absence of clinical symptoms and signs of meningeal irritation is a remote possibility, but it should always be considered.


Keywords: cerebrospinal fluid, meningitis, encephalitis, lumbar puncture
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