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BACKGROUND: The epidemiology of CNS infections in Europe is dynamic, requiring that clinicians have access to up-to-date clinical management guidelines (CMGs) to aid identification of emerging infections and for improving quality and a degree of standardisation in diagnostic and clinical management practices. This paper presents a systematic review of CMGs for community-acquired CNS infections in Europe. METHODS: A systematic review. Databases were searched from October 2004 to January 2019, supplemented by an electronic survey distributed to 115 clinicians in 33 European countries through the CLIN-Net clinical network of the COMBACTE-Net Innovative Medicines Initiative. Two reviewers screened records for inclusion, extracted data and assessed the quality using the AGREE II tool. RESULTS: Twenty-six CMGs were identified, 14 addressing bacterial, ten viral and two both bacterial and viral CNS infections. Ten CMGs were rated high quality, 12 medium and four low. Variations were identified in the definition of clinical case definitions, risk groups, recommendations for differential diagnostics and antimicrobial therapy, particularly for paediatric and elderly populations. CONCLUSION: We identified variations in the quality and recommendations of CMGs for community-acquired CNS infections in use across Europe. A harmonised European "framework-CMG" with adaptation to local epidemiology and risks may improve access to up-to-date CMGs and the early identification and management of (re-)emerging CNS infections with epidemic potential.

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AGREE II appraisal, CNS infections, Encephalitis, Guidelines, Meningitis, Meningoencephalitis