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Pediatric Oropharyngeal Tularemia Cases: Challenges in Management.

Background: Tularemia is one of the most prevalent zoonoses across the world. Patients in Turkiye mostly contract the oropharyngeal form, acquired through drinking, or contact with microorganism-contaminated water. Methods: Patients with oropharyngeal tularemia aged under 18 years and diagnosed between January 01, 2017, and December 31, 2020, were evaluated retrospectively. Tularemia was diagnosed in patients with compatible histories, symptoms, clinical presentations, and laboratory test results. Results: The mean age of 38 children was 12.1 ± 3.4 years, and the female/male ratio was 0.58 (14/24). The mean duration of symptoms on admission was 33.8 ± 26.2 days. All children had enlarged lymph nodes. Malaise, fever, and loss of appetite were other frequent symptoms. Patients were treated with antibiotics for a mean of 26.2 ± 18.8 days. Gentamycin was the most frequently used antibiotic (either alone or in combination) ( n = 29, 76.3%). Twenty-six (68.4%) patients underwent surgical procedures in addition to antibiotherapy. Five (13.2%) required secondary total excision. Patients with higher leukocyte counts at admission received a combination of antibiotherapy plus surgery, rather than antibiotics alone. No relapses, reretreatment requirement, or mortality were observed after 12 months of follow-up. Conclusions: Oropharyngeal tularemia in children can require longer courses of antibiotic treatment with more than one drug and more frequent surgery than previously suggested in the literature, especially if the patients are admitted late to the hospital, symptom duration is prolonged, and appropriate treatment is initiated late. Higher leukocyte counts on admission may be prognostic for longer antibiotic treatment course and suppurative complications that require surgery. Raising awareness among patients and physicians is essential.

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