Nationwide Trends in Pediatric Staphylococcus aureus Head and Neck Infections

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To evaluate the epidemiologic manifestations of pediatric Staphylococcus aureus head and neck infections nationwide and to identify possible trends in the antibiotic drug susceptibility of S aureus during a 6-year period.


Retrospective review of microbiologic data from a peer-reviewed national database.


More than 300 hospitals nationwide.


All pediatric patients with head and neck infections involving S aureus.

Main Outcome Measures

Anatomic sites were divided into oropharynx/neck, sinonasal, and otologic infection categories. Demographic and antimicrobial drug susceptibility patterns were reviewed.


A total of 21 009 pediatric head and neck S aureus infections that occurred between January 2001 and December 31, 2006 were gathered from the database. Predominance was observed in the oropharyngeal/neck category (60.3%). For all sites, the mean patient age was 6.7 years (range, 0–18 years), with a 51.7% male predominance. There was a high occurrence in the North East Central region of the United States. Overall, methicillin-resistant S aureus was seen in 21.6% of all patient isolates (n = 4534), with rates of 11.8%, 12.5%, 18.1%, 27.2%, 25.5%, and 28.1% for 2001 through 2006, respectively. This represents a 16.3% increase in methicillin-resistant S aureus during these 6 years for all pediatric head and neck S aureus infections.


There is an alarming nationwide increase in the prevalence of pediatric methicillin-resistant S aureus head and neck infections. Disparities in the treatment of various head and neck infections nationwide may contribute to the regional differences in the prevalence of such infections. Judicious use of antibiotic agents and increased effectiveness in diagnosis and treatment are warranted to reduce further antimicrobial drug resistance in pediatric head and neck infections.

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