Last year, there were five predictions made that appeared to be on the money – but there is more to the story!
1. The approach to diagnosis and treatment of influenza was essential knowledge for clinicians. Last year , we started seeing influenza activity early – with disease confirmed in mid-November, peaking during the week ending December 28, 2013 and trending downward in early January 2014. Hospitalizations were most common in young and middle aged adults and the 2009 H1N1 virus predominated.
This year, again we are seeing influenza early – with nearly all states reporting at least sporadic and local activity, and several states (Alaska, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Texas) reporting regional activity as of the week ending November 24, 2014. At my institution, we’ve already tested over 500 children and over 100 were positive – influenza A (H3N2) strains are predominating. That may be important for the two reasons you’ll read below.
2. Invasive staphylococcal disease caused by methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) was more common than methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), as the national burden of MRSA disease decreased (JAMA 2014;311:1438-9). The rates of clindamycin resistance continue to be pretty steady at approximately 15%-18%, but higher for MSSA than for MRSA – a point that is important to consider when empirically treating suspected invasive staphylococcal infection.
3. Multidrug resistant uropathogens took an increasingly prominent role in 2014, requiring careful approach to diagnosis (every child treated for urinary tract infection should have an appropriately obtained urine culture with an identified pathogen) and treatment (the drug used should be based on antibiotic susceptibility testing results). Particularly concerning is the emergence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae , which cause infection more commonly in hospitalized patients, those with indwelling devices, and those who have received long courses of antibiotics.
4. It was an outbreak year for parechovirus (HPeV), a viral pathogen causing meningitis in very young infants. Such infants present with signs and symptoms of meningitis but rarely show CSF pleocytosis. Diagnosis relies on the detection of the virus by polymerase chain reaction testing in CSF – a test which is not routinely available in many laboratories. At my institution this season, we saw nearly as many cases of parechovirus meningitis (n = 43) as we saw cases of enterovirus meningitis (n = 63). The parechovirus virus we detected was HPeV type 3, which can cause particularly severe disease in neonates.
5. Data confirmed that making human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine a standard recommendation increased vaccine uptake and coverage. In February of 2014, a “Dear Colleague” letter that was endorsed by six leading medical organizations encouraged providers to promote HPV vaccination by giving a strong recommendation, citing data based on research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We still have a long way to go as HPV vaccine coverage for teens remains at 35% for the three-dose series while meningococcal and Tdap vaccine (both vaccines that generally receive a standard recommendation by physicians) coverage is at nearly 90%.
So for 2015, I’ll start the discussion by saying there are five major developments I did not see coming for this past year, but that will remain relevant for the year 2015!
1. In June of 2014, live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) was announced by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to be the preferred vaccine in children aged 2-8 years. The American Academy of Pediatrics followed with a recommendation that either inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or LAIV be used for children, including children aged 2-8 years – the key being to give the vaccine as soon as one had it available. What was not known then and I did not predict was that newer data would confirm that in children aged 2-8 years who received LAIV last year when 2009 H1N1 strains predominated, there was essentially no coverage against 2009 H1N1 virus. This was in contrast to data from the prior 2 years and is as yet unexplained. The AAP continues to recommend that either vaccine be given and all children be immunized. That may be especially important this year as the influenza season started early. Disease will likely have been widespread by Christmas in many parts of the United States, and it looks like influenza A H3N2 strains will be most commonly noted. So the good news for young children who received LAIV is that 2009 H1N1 strains so far have not been seen this year. The bad news is that there are two H3N2 strains circulating, and potentially only one will be covered by the 2014-2015 seasonal vaccine. Staffing your office and hospital for a likely high census respiratory viral season is going to be essential.
2. The largest U.S. outbreak ever of enterovirus (EV) D-68 respiratory infection occurred between August and October of 2014. This virus – which had been identified in 1962 but was rarely described over the next 36 years except in small clusters of disease – was reported in nearly every state and characterized by unusually severe respiratory tract infection. Many, but not all children, had a history of asthma or prior wheezing, and the clinical presentation was that of severe bronchospasm that was generally resistant to standard bronchodilator therapy. The spectrum of infection likely ranged from mild upper respiratory infection to severe bronchospasm with respiratory failure, and the burden of disease resulting in hospitalization was substantial at many children’s hospitals. The big question now is what will enterovirus season 2015 bring us? The good news here is that we now have a test to rapidly diagnose EV D-68, which will allow us to more clearly understand the burden of disease – and potentially to define antiviral treatment (none of the current antivirals is effective) and prevention (there is no vaccine against EV D-68).
3. The etiology of the neurologic illness, which appeared to mimic polio and presented during the same time frame during which EV D-68 was circulating, is as yet unknown. As of Nov. 26, 2014, the CDC has received reports of 90 children in 32 states who meet a case definition consistent with acute flaccid myelitis. While certain viruses – including West Nile virus, herpes virus, adenovirus, and certain enterovirus types (for example, enterovirus 71, and the classic being polio) – may cause acute flaccid paralysis and can be confirmed by detecting the virus in cerebrospinal fluid and stool, to date virus testing for all viruses, including EV D-68, has been negative in all of the patients reported. Hopefully, 2015 will be the year that will allow us to more clearly understand this neurologic illness – and this is important because so far most children have shown minimal recovery of function.
4. If you see a child (or adult) who recently traveled to the Caribbean and returns with fever, rash, and joint pain, especially with severe pain of the hands and feet, think chikungunya virus infection. As of the end of October 2014, local transmission had been identified in 37 countries or territories in the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), with a total of 780,206 suspected cases and over 15,000 confirmed cases reported from these areas. Consider this in contrast to the numbers from 2006 through 2011, when 117 cases of chikungunya fever were reported in returning travelers. As of Dec. 2, a total of 1,911 chikungunya virus disease cases have been reported to ArboNET from U.S. states. The mosquito that transmits chikungunya virus can bite in day and night, and prevention relies on appropriate use of mosquito repellents. Physicians should be prepared to discuss the risks of this virus with travelers who plan a trip to the Caribbean, especially those at high risk, including those with underlying medical conditions, preexisting arthritis diagnoses, and pregnant women (because of the potential risk to newborns whose mothers develop intrapartum infection).
5. And lastly, Ebola. While there were reports that Ebola virus disease had emerged in West Africa as early as December of 2013, the scope of the outbreak and extent of loss of human life has been unbelievably huge. Dr. Carrie Byington, who is the current chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases, wrote an article in AAP News in October 2014 describing the needs of children who have been impacted by Ebola virus disease (EVD). She noted that UNICEF estimated there were at that time, over 4,000 Ebola orphans in the countries most affected by EVD, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, and that these countries urgently needed medical infrastructure for treatment and prevention of this disease. It appears that at least two Ebola vaccines will be deployed in West Africa in 2015, and it is not a moment too soon. While cases in Liberia seemed to be decreasing, it looks like Sierra Leone cases continue to mount.
Dr. Jackson is chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Mo., and professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Dr. Jackson was a member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases who wrote the AAP clinical report entitled “Guidance on Management of Asymptomatic Neonates Born to Women With Active Genital Herpes Lesions,” but said she had no other conflicts of interest to disclose. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.