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The most important way to reduce childhood mortality and morbidity is an early recognition of severe infections. The observed incidence of severe infections in Flanders is related to the clinical setting and is probably the highest in the pediatric emergency department, but precise numbers are lacking. The incidence of severe infections over a six-month period in the pediatric emergency department of the University Hospital of Leuven (Belgium), was investigated. Children, one month to sixteen years of age, presenting to the emergency department between October 2011 and March 2012 with an acute illness, were retrospectively included in this study, which was based on their electronic medical record. Only the most severe infections were selected. 2,221 of the 3,107 children presenting to the emergency department with acute illness were included. 241 children (11%) suffered a severe infection: pneumonia (126), meningitis/sepsis (17), pyelonephritis (25), complicated viral infections (49) and other infections (24). The greatest incidence was observed in children of one to four years of age (118), the incidence decreasing as the age increased. Half of the boys (121) and the girls (120) with a severe infection were referred by a general practitioner or an ambulant pediatrician. Half of the children were referred by other physicians, thus increasing the chances of a severe infection. 11% of all acutely ill children had a severe infection.

Original publication




Journal article


Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde

Publication Date





362 - 368