Objectives: To describe the characteristics of infants evaluated for serious bacterial infection, focusing on empirical testing and treatment of herpes simplex virus (HSV) and describe the characteristics of HSV-positive patients.
Methods: We included infants aged 0 to 60 days undergoing evaluation for serious bacterial infection in the emergency department. This descriptive study was conducted between July 2010 and June 2014 at a tertiary-care children's hospital. Eligible patients were identified on the basis of age at presentation to the hospital and laboratory specimens. Infant characteristics, symptoms on presentation, and laboratory workup were compared between HSV-positive and HSV-negative patients by using the 2-sample t test or the Wilcoxon rank test.
Results: A total of 1633 infants were eligible for inclusion, and 934 (57.2%) were 0 to 28 days of age. HSV was diagnosed in 19 infants, 11 of whom had disseminated disease. Compared with those without HSV, HSV-positive infants were younger, less likely to be febrile and to present with nonspecific symptoms, and more likely to have a mother with HSV symptoms (P < .05). Testing from all recommended locations was only performed in 22% of infants. Infants tested or empirically treated with acyclovir had a longer median length of stay compared with children who were not tested or treated (P < .01).
Conclusions: The absence of fever should not preclude a workup for HSV in neonates, and when a workup is initiated, emphasis should be placed on obtaining samples from serum, cerebrospinal fluid, and surface specimens. Physicians may benefit from a guideline for evaluation of HSV with specific guidance on high-risk features of presentation and recommended testing.
Copyright © 2020 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Conflict of interest statement
POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have indicated they have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.
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