Safe to stop meningitis drugs earlier, study shows

Antibiotic treatment of bacterial meningitis in children can be safely stopped at five days, instead of 10 days as recommended by NICE, research suggests.

NICE guidelines require antibiotics be given for at least 7-14 days for various strains of meningitis infection, but there is little evidence for the most appropriate treatment duration.

Researchers recruited 1,004 children aged two months to 12 years from six low-income countries. The children were randomised to receive ten days on ceftriaxone, or five days on ceftriaxone and five on placebo.

They found that treatment of meningitis with ceftriaxone can be safely discontinued in a child who is stable after five days.

Five-day treatment was as effective as 10-day, with no additional risk of relapse.

A shorter course is more cost effective, but a longer course of antibiotics may still be required for particular strains of bacteria, they found.

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