A violent bacterium has been identified as the cause of an unusual epidemic among Israeli babies and toddlers over the past few years.
The culprit's name is Kingella kingae and it seems to favor the respiratory tracks of children aged six months to two years. In the majority of the cases it causes no more than a light infection with flu-like symptoms; but is some of the cases it might get into the child's blood stream, causing sepsis, arthritis or even cardiomyopathy.
Recent reports compiled by the Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital in Jerusalem and the Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva, as well as a parallel study done at the Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, revealed that hundreds of children in Israel have been struck by the more severe forms of Kingella kingae, in the past few years.
The studies looked at 62 cases of the infection, revealing that 80% of the children developed light respiratory infections, three suffered from sepsis and six developed cardiomyopathy – two of them needed emergency heart surgery.
The studies further revealed that 50% of the arthritis cases diagnosed in children of that age group were induced by Kingella kingae.
Further studies commission in light of the results looked into 300 similar cases, all indicating that Israeli children are – for some unknown reason – more susceptible to the violent bacterium.
"These morbidity rates are unprecedented in the world," said Dr. Gal Dubnov-Raz of the Department of Pediatrics at Hadassah, "but despite the fact that it is a violent strand, it can be easily treated with antibiotics when properly diagnosed.
"As always," he added, "we recommend patent take their children to the doctor if they exhibit any signs of persistent high fever."