Aetiologies, clinical presentation and neuro-cognitive outcomes of non-HIV associated encephalitis in Cameroon - exploring a neglected disease in a low income African country

Acute infectious encephalitis is a frequent infectious disease associated with high mortality rates. It is caused by different etiologic agents and manifests with a wide range of clinical signs.

Encephalitis management guidelines in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) are limited by the absence of local epidemiological data leading to delays or even absence of adequate treatment. Today’s empirical treatment based on non-specific signs and symptoms is a “blind” treatment strategy contributing to mortality. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify the etiological agents of encephalitis in LMIC.

We intend to investigate the aetiologies and pathogen-specific elements in the clinical presentation of encephalitis in HIV-negative adults from urban and rural areas in Cameroon. To achieve this goal, we will perform microbiologic analysis on cerebrospinal fluid, as well as inflammatory, biochemical, and cerebral imaging. Additionally, we will describe survival rates, and outcomes of encephalitis in terms of physical and neuropsychological sequelae. Finally, we will associate these clinical observations with the pathogen type, initial radiologic findings.

The results will allow us to adapt diagnostic algorithms and treatment protocols to the regional variations in pathogen distribution. They will also emphasize the need for long-term follow-up and rehabilitation of survivors.

Project lead- Dr Alain Kenfak Foguena, Jura Bernois Hospital (HJB), Moutier, Switzerland and Filariasis and other Tropical Diseases Research Centre (CRFilMT), Yaoundé, Cameroon