Measles in a South African paediatric intensive care unit: Again!

Authors

  • Saskia Coetzee,

    1. Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
    2. School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
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  • Brenda M Morrow,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
    • Correspondence: Dr Brenda Morrow, 5th Floor ICH Building, Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Klipfontein Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7700, South Africa. Fax: +27 21 689 1287; email: brenda.morrow@uct.ac.za

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  • Andrew C Argent

    1. Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
    2. School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
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  • Financial support: Brenda Morrow was supported in part by the Medical Research Council of Southern Africa.
  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

Abstract

Aim

The aim of this study is to evaluate the outcomes of children with measles-related disease (MRD) admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and the effect on PICU resources and elective surgery of a recent measles epidemic.

Methods

This was a retrospective observational study of all patients admitted to the PICU of Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa, with MRD from January to December 2010. Patient admission characteristics, duration of PICU admission and mortality were recorded. Costs were calculated using bed days utilised and estimated daily PICU admission cost.

Results

A total of 1274 children were admitted over the study period, 58 (4.6%) with MRD (median (interquartile range) age 7 (5–9) months). Pneumonia was the most common reason for admission (81%) and the main cause of mortality. Non-MRD mortality was 8.8% compared with MRD mortality of 31% (P < 0.0001). Standardised mortality for non-MRD was 0.7 versus 1.7 in MRD (P = 0.002). HIV comorbidity and being underweight for age were associated with increased mortality. Patients with MRD occupied 379 bed days with a median (interquartile range) duration of stay of 5.5 (3.0–9.0) days at an estimated overall cost of R4 813 300 (approximately $543 900). During the study period, 67 children booked for elective surgery, and 87 other referrals were refused PICU admission.

Conclusions

MRD was associated with significant morbidity and mortality, and substantial strain on scarce PICU resources.

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