78 patients with bacterial meningitis were evaluated in a prospective, randomised study comparing twice-daily ceftriaxone as single-drug therapy with ampicillin and chloramphenicol given every 6 h. The groups were comparable in age, sex, days of illness before admission, and bacterial colony counts in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The pathogens were Haemophilus influenzae type b (54 cases), streptococci (9 cases), meningococci (9 cases), and unknown (6 cases). In 40 CSF specimens obtained 4-12 h after initiation of therapy, cultures were negative in 57% of the ceftriaxone patients and in 42% of the others. The mean falls in the CSF bacterial colony counts were 4.7 and 5.0 log10 colony-forming units/ml, respectively. Mean bactericidal activity in CSF was significantly greater in the ceftriaxone than in the conventional treatment group at the beginning and end of therapy. There were no significant differences in clinical responses or in frequency of complications, except for mild diarrhoea, which occurred in 16 ceftriaxone patients and in 8 in the other group (p<0·05).
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