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DOI: 10.1186/s12887-021-02699-9; PMCID: PMC8129693


BACKGROUND: Fever is a common symptom in children presenting to the Emergency Department (ED). We aimed to describe the epidemiology of systemic viral infections and their predictive values for excluding serious bacterial infections (SBIs), including bacteremia, meningitis and urinary tract infections (UTIs) in children presenting to the ED with suspected systemic infections.

METHODS: We enrolled children who presented to the ED with suspected systemic infections who had blood cultures obtained at seven healthcare facilities. Whole blood specimens were analyzed by an experimental multiplexed PCR test for 7 viruses. Demographic and laboratory results were abstracted.

RESULTS: Of the 1114 subjects enrolled, 245 viruses were detected in 224 (20.1%) subjects. Bacteremia, meningitis and UTI frequency in viral bloodstream-positive patients was 1.3, 0 and 10.1% compared to 2.9, 1.3 and 9.7% in viral bloodstream-negative patients respectively. Although viral bloodstream detections had a high negative predictive value for bacteremia or meningitis (NPV = 98.7%), the frequency of UTIs among these subjects remained appreciable (9/89, 10.1%) (NPV = 89.9%). Screening urinalyses were positive for leukocyte esterase in 8/9 (88.9%) of these subjects, improving the ability to distinguish UTI.

CONCLUSIONS: Viral bloodstream detections were common in children presenting to the ED with suspected systemic infections. Although overall frequencies of SBIs among subjects with and without viral bloodstream detections did not differ significantly, combining whole blood viral testing with urinalysis provided high NPV for excluding SBI.

Journal Title

BMC pediatrics [electronic resource]





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Adenovirus; Cytomegalovirus; Enterovirus; Human parechovirus; Parvovirus B19; Pediatrics; Serious bacterial infections; Viremia


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