Five-year analysis of rickettsial fevers in children in South India: Clinical manifestations and complications
Introduction: Rickettsial infections are re-emerging in the Indian subcontinent, especially among children. Understanding geographical and clinical epidemiology will facilitate early diagnosis and management.
Methodology: Children aged <18yrs hospitalized with clinically-diagnosed rickettsial fever were reviewed retrospectively. Frequency distributions and odds ratios were calculated from tabulated data.
Results: Among 262 children hospitalized between January 2008-December 2012, median age was five years, and 61% were male children. Hospitalized cases increased steadily every year, with the highest burden (74%) occurring between September and January each year. Mean duration of fever was 11.5 days. Rash was present in 54.2% (142/262) of children, with 37.0% involving palms and soles. Prevalence of malnutrition was high (45% of children were underweight and 28% had stunting). Retinal vasculitis was seen in 13.7% (36/262), and the risk appeared higher in females. Severe complications were seen in 29% (purpura fulminans, 7.6%; meningitis and meningoencephalitis, 28%; septic shock, 1.9%; acute respiratory distress syndrome, 1.1%). Complications were more likely to occur in anemic children. Positive Weil-Felix test results (titers ≥1:160) were seen in 70% of cases. Elevated OX-K titers suggestive of scrub typhus were seen in 80% (147/184). Patients were treated with chloramphenicol (32%) or doxycycline (68%). Overall mortality among hospitalised children was 1.9%.
Conclusions: This five-year analysis from southern India shows a high burden and increasing trend of rickettsial infections among children. The occurrence of retinal vasculitis and a high rate of severe complications draw attention to the need for early diagnosis and management of these infections.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).