Epidemiology and outcome of necrotizing fasciitis in children: an active surveillance study of the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program

Ihuoma Eneli, H Dele Davies
Journal of Pediatrics 2007, 151 (1): 79-84, 84.e1

OBJECTIVE: To describe the epidemiology, management, and outcome of pediatric necrotizing fasciitis (NF) in Canada before full implementation of varicella immunization programs.

STUDY DESIGN: This was a prospective cohort study of all children under age 16 years identified by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program (CPSP).

RESULTS: Between November 1, 2001 and October 31, 2003, 36 NF cases were identified (mean age, 5.9 +/- 5 years). Group A streptococcus (GAS)-related and non-GAS-related NF accounted for 2.12 and 0.81 cases per million children, respectively. The annual incidence was substantially higher in children under age 5 years (5.9 vs 1.8 per million; P = .0002). Males over age 1 year had the highest disease burden, with 12 cases per million, versus 3.2 cases per million for females under age 1 year (P < .0001). Most (15/26; 58%) GAS-related cases were associated with varicella. Complications occurred in 29 children (78%), and 2 children (5.4%) died.

CONCLUSION: In the prevaccine era, NF occurred most commonly in Canadian children under age 5 years, with a peak incidence in males under age 1 year. There is substantial associated morbidity and about 5% mortality. The data provide baseline incidence of disease and a surveillance mechanism for NF after the implementation of publicly funded varicella immunization programs in Canada.

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