We retrospectively examined the medical and autopsy records of seven previously unpublished cases of fatal pneumococcal septicemia in children with hemoglobin SC disease. The earliest death occurred in a 1-year-old child who had congenital heart disease with cyanosis; the other children were aged 31/2 to 15 years. Only one child had received pneumococcal vaccine or prophylactic penicillin therapy. All seven children had an acute febrile illness and rapid clinical deterioration despite parenterally administered antibiotic therapy and intensive medical support. Erythrocyte pit counts in two patients were 40.3% and 41.7%, respectively (normal, ≤3.6%). Autopsy data from five cases showed marked splenic congestion without infarction in five, splenomegaly in four, and bilateral adrenal hemorrhage in three. These cases illustrate that functional asplenia predisposes some children with hemoglobin SC disease to the development of fatal septicemia after the age of 3 years. We conclude that pneumococcal vaccine should be administered to all children with hemoglobin SC disease and that acute febrile illnesses should be investigated promptly for the possibility of septicemia. The routine use of prophylactic penicillin therapy in infants and children with hemoglobin SC disease remains controversial.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health