polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for bacterial meningitis and meningococcal disease

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Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for bacterial meningitis and meningococcal disease:

  • perform whole blood real-time PCR testing (EDTA sample) for N meningitidis to confirm a diagnosis of meningococcal disease
  • the PCR blood sample should be taken as soon as possible because early samples are more likely to be positive
  • use PCR testing of blood samples from other hospital laboratories if available, to avoid repeating the test
  • be aware that a negative blood PCR test result for N meningitidis does not rule out meningococcal disease
  • submit CSF to the laboratory to hold for PCR testing for N meningitidis and S pneumoniae, but only perform the PCR testing if the CSF culture is negative
  • be aware that CSF samples taken up to 96 hours after admission to hospital may give useful results. Skin samples and throat swabs for meningococcal disease

Reference:

Last reviewed 06/2021

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