World Meningitis Day
October 5

World Meningitis Day

How can we #DefeatMeningitis? Fast molecular diagnostics

Despite advances in vaccines and other preventative measures, meningitis and encephalitis continue to claim lives across the globe (1).

But we can fight back by knowing our enemy. Fast molecular diagnostics can identify the cause of these infections in record time. With answers in hand, clinicians can make quicker therapeutic decisions and help save lives.

Take some time to learn about the history of meningitis/encephalitis diagnostics this World Meningitis Day. And discover the newest diagnostic options available that are helping patients get back to their families sooner.

Historical diagnosis focused on clinical presentation

Doctors have been describing central nervous system (CNS) infections since Hippocrates. But until the 19th century, they had no reliable way to diagnose meningitis, instead relying on clinical presentation alone (2).

That changed in 1890 when a German surgeon performed the first modern lumbar puncture. This procedure allowed doctors to analyze cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and identify the hallmarks of bacterial meningitis (2).

Since then, scientists have identified several bacteria, viruses and fungi that can cause meningitis/encephalitis.

Slow, inaccurate tests delay care for patients

The current standard of care for meningitis/encephalitis is a multi-pronged approach that involves an array of tests to detect bacteria, viruses and fungi:

Cerebrospinal fluid and blood culture, gram stain, microscopy, latex agglutination tests, single-target PCR tests and antigen tests.

But these numerous tests are slow, labor-intensive, exhibit low sensitivity and provide low diagnostic yield, especially following empiric antibiotic administration (3).

These tests enable faster and more accurate pathogen identification, allowing for timely treatment and reducing patients' risk of severe complications. They're proven to dramatically reduce the time to diagnosis, increase diagnostic yield and improve patient management:
Fast panel tests can identify more pathogens – and a wider variety – than traditional microbiology alone

Increased diagnostic yield

Fast panel tests can identify more pathogens – and a wider variety – than traditional microbiology alone (8).

Rapid molecular diagnostic tools, including multiplex PCR panel tests, have the potential to dramatically speed up the time to diagnosis for individuals with meningitis. Watch our on-demand webinars below to learn how these tests can improve meningitis diagnostics. 
A woman in a white doctor's apron.

Quick and effective diagnosis of meningitis and gastroenteritis

Speaker: Liliana Gabrielli, MD Microbiology Unit, IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria of Bologna, Italy
When a patient is critically ill, a quick diagnosis is crucial. Join Dr. Liliana Gabrielli as she evaluates rapid molecular testing in the diagnosis of central nervous system and gastrointestinal infections. 

Man in white t-shirt.

Quickly diagnosing meningitis and encephalitis

Speaker: Thomas Sundelin Ph.D., Clinical Microbiology Department, Herlev Hospital, Denmark
In this webinar, Dr. Sundelin discusses the clinical validation of a rapid multiplex PCR test for central nervous system infections, the QIAstat-Dx Meningitis/Encephalitis Panel. 
  1. GBD 2016 Meningitis Collaborators (2018) Lancet. 17,1061–1082. 4422(18)30387-9
  2. Tyler KL. Chapter 28: a history of bacterial meningitis. Handb Clin Neurol. 2010;95:417-433. doi:10.1016/S0072-9752(08)02128-3
  3. Van de Beek D. et al. (2016) Cli Microbiol Infect. 22, S37–S62. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2016.01.007
  4. WHO. Defeating Meningitis by 2030.
  5. Cailleaux M. et al. (2019) ) Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 39, 293–297. *
  6. Posnakoglou, L., et al. (2020). Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 39(12), 2379–2386 *
  7. Moffa MA, Bremmer DN, Carr D, et al. Impact of a Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction Assay on the Clinical Management of Adults Undergoing a Lumbar Puncture for Suspected Community-Onset Central Nervous System Infections. Antibiotics (Basel). 2020;9(6):282. Published 2020 May 26. doi:10.3390/antibiotics9060282 *
  8. Naccache SN, Lustestica M, Fahit M, Mestas J, Dien Bard J. One Year in the Life of a Rapid Syndromic Panel for Meningitis/Encephalitis: a Pediatric Tertiary Care Facility's Experience. J Clin Microbiol. 2018;56(5):e01940-17. Published 2018 Apr 25. doi:10.1128/JCM.01940-17 *

* Data cited pertains to the use of a device from another manufacturer.

The QIAstat-Dx ME Panel is indicated as an aid in the diagnosis of specific agents that cause meningitis and/or encephalitis, and results must be used in conjunction with other clinical, epidemiological, and laboratory data. Results from the QIAstat-Dx ME Panel are not intended to be used as the sole basis for diagnosis, treatment, or other patient management decisions. Positive results do not rule out co-infection with organisms not included in the QIAstat-Dx ME Panel. The agent or agents detected may not be the definite cause of the disease. Negative results do not preclude central nervous system (CNS) infection.

The QIAstat-Dx ME Panel is intended for in vitro diagnostic use by laboratory professionals only.

Product availability may differ from country to country based on regulations and approvals. Contact your country representative for further details. For up-to-date licensing information and product-specific disclaimers, see the respective QIAGEN kit instructions for use or user manual. QIAGEN instructions for use and user manuals are available at or can be requested from QIAGEN Technical Services (or your local distributor).