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Emerging viral and bacterial infections of the central nervous system

Authors Balin B, Hammond

Received 17 February 2012

Accepted for publication 16 March 2012

Published 1 May 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 35—44


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Brian J Balin, Christine J Hammond
Department of Pathology/Microbiology/Immunology and Forensic Medicine, Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Abstract: This review focuses on emerging viral and bacterial infections in the human central nervous system (CNS) that are responsible for significant global morbidity and mortality. These infections include those responsible for acute neurological disease such as meningitis and encephalitis as well those associated with chronic neurodegenerative conditions. Recent changes in climate conditions and pollution have been precipitating factors leading to the emergence of many of these pathogenic organisms. In addition, increased urbanization, global travel, life span, and exposure to new vectors have promoted the organisms' spread across the globe. Categorization of many of these organisms includes identification of new species, recognition of new tropism to the CNS, spread into naïve demographic areas, increased human contact with zoonotic repositories including insect vectors, and reemergence of well-known organisms. These mechanisms are highlighted for the different organisms included in this review. Other mechanisms for CNS emergence such as genetic mutation of the organisms and immunosuppression and/or immunosenescence of the host are addressed. Viral and bacterial infections in chronic neurodegenerative diseases traditionally not thought to be infectious are considered. Although this review cannot be all-inclusive, the organisms included represent a sampling of extremely important microbes and their role in CNS pathogenesis in the twenty-first century.

Keywords: viruses, bacteria, central nervous system, emergence

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