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The Role of Listeria Monocytogenes and other Bacteria in Meningitis and Spontaneous Abortion in Some Towns in Northern Nigeria

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The Role of Listeria Monocytogenes and other Bacteria in Meningitis and Spontaneous Abortion in Some Towns in Northern Nigeria.


The involvement of Listeria monocytogenes in bacterial meningitis and spontaneous abortion in some towns in northern Nigeria was investigated. Three hundred cerebrospinalfluid (CSF) samples, 300 blood and 300 placenta swab samples were collected from meningitis and spontaneous abortion patients in the study area of Bauchi, Jos and Kano. Three hundred nono (a fermented milk product) samples were also collected from milk hawkers at various locations in the study areas. The samples were inoculated first into Listeria enrichment broth.

Incubation was at 37o C, followed by cold enrichment at OO C for samples that did not yield any growth at 370 C. Further sub- inoculations were made on Listeria selective agar. Parallel inoculation of the samples was also made on blood, chocolate and McConkey agar media using standard bacteriological methods. Listeria-like organisms were subjected to biochemical and serological investigations using type 1a, 4b and polyvalent sera supplied by Difco laboratories (Detroit, Michigan).

The bacterial isolates from the CSF samples included Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Listeria monocytogenes. They had the following percentage frequencies of occurrence: 48.8, 16.56, 11.04, 7.36 and 5.58 %, respectively. Furthermore, Enterococcus faecalis, Proteus mirabilis, E. coli, and L. monocytogenes were some of the bacteria isolated from the placenta swabs and blood samples. They had the following percentage frequencies of occurrence: 30.43, 15.65, 13.9 and 12.20% respectively. L. monocytogenes was not isolated from nono samples. 


Meningitis and spontaneous abortion have been responsible for the death of so many people worldwide. In the United States, 5,755 cases of meningitis were reported in 1995, with 499 deaths (Schuchat et al., 1997). In Africa, 20,000 deaths were reported between 1996 and 1997. Similarly, 3,121 cases of meningitis were reported in Nigeria in 1992 with spontaneous 393 deaths (Greenwood, 1999; Anonymous 1992).

The story is not different for abortion. In Nigeria it was reported that there were 1,000 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births annually (WHO, 1988; Stanley et al., 1998). These reports were not specific for any bacterium. Many cases of death caused by these diseases in Nigeria were not reported. Patients may have died before they could obtain medical help, because of the poor state of some health facilities, and inaccessibility of most of the rural areas (Greenwood, 1999).

The epidemiological data of meningitis in Africa are based on meningitis caused by N. meningitidis, otherwise referred to as meningococcal meningitis (Lapeyssonnei, 1963). But it is not the only bacterium reported to cause meningitis. Other bacteria, such as L. monocytogenes, S. pneumoniae, S. aureus, and Haemophilus influenzae, have been isolated from CSF of meningitis patients ( Hanssler et al., 1990; Zaki et al., 1990). This indicates that focus should also be on these and other associated bacteria, rather than on N. meningitidis, as in northern Nigeria (Ejembi et al., 1998). 


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CSN Team.

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