A 7-Year-Old With Persistent Fever and Cough

Pediatrics. 2022 Sep 1;150(3):e2021050751. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-050751.


A previously healthy, fully immunized 7-year-old girl presented with a 7-week history of daily fevers and a worsening cough with persistently elevated inflammatory markers. Before admission, she had an unrevealing outpatient workup by infectious disease, rheumatology, pulmonology, and otorhinolaryngology for her fever and other symptoms. Multiple courses of antibiotics had no effect, but brief courses of steroids seemed to modestly alleviate her symptoms. At an outside hospital, a computed tomography neck and chest scan revealed mediastinal lymphadenopathy. She was subsequently transferred to the authors' institution. Her examination was notable for a febrile, tired-appearing girl in respiratory distress with a muffled voice and inspiratory stridor. Her laboratory tests revealed leukocytosis with left shift, microcytic anemia, and hypoalbuminemia, as well as elevated inflammatory markers, ferritin, and fecal calprotectin. Her peripheral smear, uric acid, and lactate dehydrogenase were all within normal limits. Infectious study results, including blood and urine cultures, cytomegalovirus serologies, and Bartonella serologies were negative. On the second read of her outside computed tomography imaging, her lymphadenopathy was felt to be nonpathologic. Based on a recommendation by rheumatology, an ophthalmologic examination was obtained, which revealed bilateral anterior uveitis; however, rheumatologic laboratory test results returned negative. Her fevers continued, and inflammatory markers remained elevated despite antibiotics. On day 6 of hospitalization, she developed worsening respiratory distress, necessitating intubation and transfer to the ICU. Repeat laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy revealed severe purulent tracheitis; however, throat cultures remained sterile. Her clinical deterioration without identification of an offending organism prompted additional evaluation for a systemic etiology.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Cough / etiology
  • Female
  • Fever of Unknown Origin*
  • Humans
  • Lymphadenopathy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents