Infections and their complications requiring surgical intervention are a frequent presentation in African children. Surgical site infection (SSI) is common with rates over 20%, even after clean procedures. The high rates of SSI are due in part to lack of infection control and surveillance policies in most hospitals in Africa. SSI is attended by complications, long hospital stay, and some mortality, but the economic consequences are unestimated. Typhoid fever and typhoid intestinal perforation are major problems with perforation rates of approximately 10%, which is higher in older children. The ideal surgical treatment is arguable, but simple closure and segmental resection are the present effective surgical options. Because of delayed presentation, complications after surgical treatment are high with a mortality approaching 41% in some parts of Africa. Nutrition for these patients remains a challenge. Acute appendicitis, although not as common in African children, often presents rather late with up to 50% of children presenting with perforation and other complications, and mortality is approximately 4% is some settings. Pyomyositis and necrotizing fasciitis are the more common serious soft-tissue infections, but early recognition and prompt treatment should minimize the occasional mortality. Though common in Africa, the exact impact of human immunodeficiency virus infection on the spectrum and severity of surgical infection in African children is not clear, but it may well worsen the course of infection in these patients.
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