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Am J Med. 1976 Apr;60(4):509-16.

Salmonella heidelberg enteritis and bacteremia. An epidemic on two pediatric wards.


Symptomatic infection with Salmonella heidelberg developed in 55 children after their admission to the pediatric wards of two adjacent hospiatls in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Many of these children had been hospitalized for the treatment of diarrhea of unidentified etiology. In 25 of these patients, Salmonella bacteremia was documented. Five had clinically unsuspected and untreated bacteremia with no evidence of complications during the follow-up period of four and a half months. The remaining 30 had "standard" symptomatic infection due to S. heidelberg. Eight children died; four of these proved to be bacteremic. The index patient, who also introduced the infection into one of the hospitals, was identified. Person to person spread perpetuated the outbreak within and between the two hospitals for nearly four months. Although neonates with salmonellosis had a higher rate of bacteremia than other children, no other specific predisposing factors for Salmonella bacteremia were identified. Laboratory studies of the epidemic strain revealed neither invasive nor enterotoxic properties of the organisms, nor enhanced virulence in laboratory mice. Cohort nursing and isolation of patients with positive cultures halted the epidemic. Nontyphoid Salmonella bacteremia, sometimes clinically unsuspected and self-limited, should be recognized as a frequent accompaniment of Salmonella enteritis in young hospitalized children.

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