Evaluation of Fever in infants and young children.

Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
American family physician (Impact Factor: 2.18). 02/2013; 87(4):254-60.
Source: PubMed


Febrile illness in children younger than 36 months is common and has potentially serious consequences. With the widespread use of immunizations against Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae type b, the epidemiology of bacterial infections causing fever has changed. Although an extensive diagnostic evaluation is still recommended for neonates, lumbar puncture and chest radiography are no longer recommended for older children with fever but no other indications. With an increase in the incidence of urinary tract infections in children, urine testing is important in those with unexplained fever. Signs of a serious bacterial infection include cyanosis, poor peripheral circulation, petechial rash, and inconsolability. Parental and physician concern have also been validated as indications of serious illness. Rapid testing for influenza and other viruses may help reduce the need for more invasive studies. Hospitalization and antibiotics are encouraged for infants and young children who are thought to have a serious bacterial infection. Suggested empiric antibiotics include ampicillin and gentamicin for neonates; ceftriaxone and cefotaxime for young infants; and cefixime, amoxicillin, or azithromycin for older infants.

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Although the burden of malaria in many parts of Tanzania has declined, the proportion of children with fever has not changed. This situation underscores the need to explore the possible causes of febrile episodes in patients presenting with symptoms at the Korogwe District Hospital (KDH). Methods A hospital based cross-sectional study was conducted at KDH, north-eastern Tanzania. Patients aged 2 to 59 months presenting at the outpatient department with an acute medical condition and fever (measured axillary temperature ≥37.5°C) were enrolled. Blood samples were examined for malaria parasites, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and bacterial infections. A urine culture was performed in selected cases to test for bacterial infection and a chest radiograph was requested if pneumonia was suspected. Diagnosis was based on both clinical and laboratory investigations. Results A total of 867 patients with a median age of 15.1 months (Interquartile range 8.6–29.9) were enrolled from January 2013 to October 2013. Respiratory tract infections were the leading clinical diagnosis with 406/867 (46.8%) of patients diagnosed with upper respiratory tract infection and 130/867 (15.0%) with pneumonia. Gastroenteritis was diagnosed in 184/867 (21.2%) of patients. Malaria infection was confirmed in 72/867 (8.3%) of patients. Bacterial infection in blood and urine accounted for 26/808 (3.2%) infections in the former, and 66/373 (17.7%) infections in the latter. HIV infection was confirmed in 10/824 (1.2%) of patients. Respiratory tract infections and gastroenteritis were frequent in patients under 36 months of age (87.3% and 91.3% respectively). Co-infections were seen in 221/867 (25.5%) of patients. The cause of fever was not identified in 65/867 (7.5%) of these patients. Conclusions The different proportions of infections found among febrile children reflect the causes of fever in the study area. These findings indicate the need to optimise patient management by developing malaria and non-malaria febrile illnesses management protocols.
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