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Non-Respiratory and Non-Diarrheal Causes of Acute Febrile Illnesses in Children Requiring Hospitalization in a Tertiary Care Hospital in North India: A Prospective Study

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  • 1 Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India;
  • 2 Department of Pediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India;
  • 3 Department of Microbiology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Acute febrile illnesses (AFIs) in children from the developing world can have varying etiologies. Awareness of local epidemiology helps in prioritizing investigations and empiric treatment. This prospective study was carried out in a tertiary care center in North India, aiming to determine the burden, etiology, and outcome of AFI other than pneumonia and diarrhea in hospitalized children. A total of 613 consecutive children aged 3 months to 12 years with febrile illness of < 7 days during four selected months of 2014 representing different seasons were screened for eligibility. Those with acute respiratory diseases (N = 175, 28.5%) and diarrheal illness (N = 46, 7.5%) were excluded and 217 children were enrolled. Mean (standard deviation) age was 4.8 (3.4) years. Nearly half (N = 91, 41.9%) presented in post-monsoon season. Diagnosis could be established in 187 (86.2%) children. Acute central nervous system infections were the most common (N = 54, 24.8%). Among specific infections, scrub typhus was the most frequent (N = 23, 10.5%) followed by malaria (N = 14, 6.4%), typhoid (N = 14, 6.5%), and viral hepatitis (N = 13, 6.0%). Blood culture had a low (6.5%) yield; Salmonella typhi (N = 6) and Staphylococcus aureus (N = 5) were the common isolates. Serological tests were helpful in 50 (23%) cases. In multivariate analysis, hepatomegaly and/or splenomegaly independently predicted scrub typhus. Mortality rate was 10.1%. We conclude that AFI other than pneumonia and diarrhea are a significant burden and follow a seasonal trend. Scrub typhus has emerged as an important etiology of childhood AFIs in northern India. Periodic review of regional epidemiology will help in understanding the changing pattern of infectious diseases.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Karthi Nallasamy, Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. E-mail: ny.karthi@gmail.com

Authors’ addresses: Abdul Rauf, Department of Pediatric Intensive Care, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, India, E-mail: abdrauf06@gmail.com. Sunit Singhi, Division of Pediatrics, Medanta-The Medicity, Gurgaon, India, E-mail: sunit.singhi@gmail.com. Karthi Nallasamy, Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, E-mail: ny.karthi@gmail.com. Mandeep Walia, Department of Pediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India, E-mail: mkwalia2000@yahoo.co.in. Pallab Ray, Department of Microbiology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, E-mail: drpallabray@gmail.com.

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