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Meningitis Caused by the Live Varicella Vaccine Virus: Metagenomic Next Generation Sequencing, Immunology Exome Sequencing and Cytokine Multiplex Profiling

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Varicella vaccine meningitis is an uncommon delayed adverse event of vaccination. Varicella vaccine meningitis has been diagnosed in 12 children, of whom 3 were immunocompromised. We now report two additional cases of vaccine meningitis in twice-immunized immunocompetent children and we perform further testing on a prior third case. We used three methods to diagnose or investigate cases of varicella vaccine meningitis, none of which have been used previously on this disease. These include metagenomic next-generation sequencing and cytokine multiplex profiling of cerebrospinal fluid and immunology exome analysis of white blood cells. In one new case, the diagnosis was confirmed by metagenomic next-generation sequencing of cerebrospinal fluid. Both varicella vaccine virus and human herpesvirus 7 DNA were detected. We performed cytokine multiplex profiling on the cerebrospinal fluid of two cases and found ten elevated biomarkers: interferon gamma, interleukins IL-1RA, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-17F, chemokines CXCL-9, CXCL-10, CCL-2, and G-CSF. In a second new case, we performed immunology exome sequencing on a panel of 356 genes, but no errors were found. After a review of all 14 cases, we concluded that (i) there is no common explanation for this adverse event, but (ii) ingestion of an oral corticosteroid burst 3-4 weeks before onset of vaccine meningitis may be a risk factor in some cases.

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