The clinical course of postnatally acquired Zika virus disease in children younger than 18 years is mild and rarely results in severe illness or death, reported Alyson Goodman, MD, and her associates at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta.
There were a total of 158 confirmed or probable postnatally acquired Zika virus disease cases among children younger than 18 years reported to the CDC in the United States between January 2015 and July 2016, wrote researchers in a case series that described the epidemiology, clinical findings, and outcomes of the cases ( MMWR. 2016 Sep 30;65:1-4 ).
The cases were reported in 30 d ifferent states, and the states with the highest numbers of reported cases were Florida (23%), New York (11%), and California (9%). All patients acquired Zika virus infections during travel to a location where mosquito-borne transmission had been documented, according to researchers.
The median patient age was 14 years, the majority of the patients were female (56%), and five patients were pregnant.
Of Zika’s four primary clinical signs and symptoms, 82% of the pediatric population had a rash, 55% had a fever, 29% had conjunctivitis, and 28% had arthralgia, with 70% of the children presenting with two or more of these symptoms.
Only two children were hospitalized because of their infections. No children were reported to have meningitis, encephalitis, or Guillain-Barré syndrome, and no patients with Zika virus infection died, researchers reported.
This data “corroborates previously published reports suggesting that the clinical course of Zika virus disease is typically mild in children, as it is in adults,” Dr. Goodman and her associates wrote.
Severe disease and death in children with postnatally acquired Zika virus infection are rare, the researchers pointed out, but they encouraged physicians to consider a Zika virus disease diagnosis for children with the four common symptoms and who reside in or traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission. All Zika virus disease cases should be reported to state health departments.
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