For better definition of the clinical course and outcome of children with occult bacteremia caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), we reviewed the medical records of children who were initially managed as outpatients and subsequently found to be bacteremic. At Yale-New Haven Hospital (1971 to 1987) and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (1982 to 1987), 69 previously healthy children were identified with occult Hib bacteremia. Their median age was 14 months (range, 4 to 89 months). Thirty-six (52%) of the 69 were either febrile and/or had a focus of serious infection at follow-up (meningitis (17), pneumonia (5), epiglottitis (3), cellulitis (5), and septic arthritis (3)). Although the remaining 33 children (48%) were afebrile and appeared well on reevaluation, 3 of these 33 were still bacteremic and another 5 subsequently developed focal Hib infections. These 8 children were significantly younger (median age, 8.5 months) than the 25 children who remained well (median age, 16 months; P = 0.03). Of the 28 children who had initially been treated with antimicrobials to which their organism was known to be susceptible, 12 (43%) were improved at reevaluation and remained well; 7 (23%) of the 31 patients who had not received such antimicrobials improved and remained well (P = 0.17). Children initially managed as outpatients and later found to have had Hib bacteremia are at risk of subsequently developing a serious focal infection.
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