Infection PDF Print E-mail
Health Care Providers - The Child with Sickle Cell Disease

Infection is the major cause of death in children with Sickle Cell Anemia under the age of five years.

The spleen functions as part of the body’s defense against infection by serving as a filter to remove bacteria from the blood stream. The sickle RBC’s damage the spleen by about four months of age so that the spleen does not function normally. This can allow bacteria to grow in the blood stream and cause septicemia, which can be fatal. Children under the age of five years are at highest risk for septicemia.

Streptococcus Pneumoniae, (also called the pneumococcus) and Hemophilus influenzae are the two bacteria most likely to cause septicemia in the child with Sickle Cell Anemia, Ninety percent (90 percent) of the infections occur before the age of three years. Thirty-five percent (35 percent) of children with Sickle Cell Anemia who get pneumococcal sepsis die from the infection.

Signs & Symptoms

Fever* - 102 F degrees or higher Coughing
Vomiting and or Diarrhea Crankiness
Rapid breathing Pale Color
Unusual sleepiness Trouble Breathing

•A fever may be the ONLY initial sign of septicemia


Other potentially serious infectious which are more likely to occur in the child with Sickle Cell Anemia are meningitis, pneumonia and osteomyelitis.

Any infection in the child with Sickle Cell Disease is an emergency. Infection is treatable and complete recovery is possible only if it is recognized and treated early enough. However, even with treatment, permanent disabilities and even death can result.

Penicillin is often prescribed prophylactically twice daily to help fight infection. Septicemia can still occur even if penicillin is taken regularly.

The child with SC Disease or Sickle Beta Pills Thalassemia is not at as high a risk for septicemia as the child with Sickle Cell Anemia or Sickle beta Zero Thalassemia. Penicillin is not always recommended for these children.

Pneumococcal and Hemophilus influenza vaccine should be given to children with Sickle Cell Disease to help boost their immunity.


Origin and Distribution of Sickle Cell Disease, Genetics, Sickle Red Blood Cells, Infections ,Splenic Sequestration, Pain, Chest Syndrome, Aplastic Crisis, Strokes, Gall Stones and Jaundice, Growth and Development, Retinopathy, Priapism

Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 June 2010 14:51
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