Indian J Med Microbiol. 2017 Apr-Jun;35(2):228-236. doi: 10.4103/ijmm.IJMM_17_124.

Increasing incidence of penicillin- and cefotaxime-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae causing meningitis in India: Time for revision of treatment guidelines?

Verghese VP1, Veeraraghavan B2, Jayaraman R2, Varghese R2, Neeravi A2, Jayaraman Y3, Thomas K4, Mehendale SM3.

Author information



Pneumococcal meningitis is a life-threatening infection, requiring prompt diagnosis and effective treatment. Penicillin resistance in pneumococcal infections is a concern. Here, we present the antibiotic susceptibility profile of pneumococcal meningeal isolates from January 2008 to August 2016 to elucidate treatment guidelines for pneumococcal meningitis.


Invasive pneumococcal isolates from all age groups, were included in this study. Minimum inhibitory concentrations for the isolates were identified by agar dilution technique and VITEK System 2. Serotyping of isolates was done by co-agglutination technique.


Out of 830 invasive pneumococcal isolates, 167 (20.1%) isolates were from meningeal infections. Cumulative penicillin resistance in pneumococcal meningitis was 43.7% and cefotaxime non-susceptibility was 14.9%. Penicillin resistance amongst meningeal isolates in those younger than 5 years, 5-16 years of age and those aged 16 years and older was 59.7%, 50% and 27.3%, respectively, with non-susceptibility to cefotaxime in the same age groups being 18%, 22.2% and 10.4%. Penicillin resistance amongst pneumococcal meningeal isolates increased from 9.5% in 2008 to 42.8% in 2016, whereas cefotaxime non-susceptibility increased from 4.7% in 2008 to 28.5% in 2016. Serotypes 14, 19F, 6B, 6A, 23F, 9V and 5 were the most common serotypes causing meningitis, with the first five accounting for over 75% of resistant isolates.


The present study reports increasing penicillin resistance and cefotaxime non-susceptibility to pneumococcal meningitis in our setting. This highlights the need for empiric therapy with third-generation cephalosporins and vancomycin for all patients with meningitis while awaiting results of culture and susceptibility testing.

PMID: 28681811 DOI: 10.4103/ijmm.IJMM_17_124