Science and Tech


Nevada reports cluster of rare brain infections in kids

There were 17 cases of intracranial abscesses identified in patients under 18 years old in 2022, a stark jump from the previous few years.
Computer-generated image of brain infection.
Posted at 4:22 PM, Apr 28, 2023

Health officials in Nevada are investigating an increase in a rare brain infection occurring in kids. 

According to the Southern Nevada Health District, there were 17 cases of intracranial abscesses identified in patients under 18 years old in 2022. That's more than triple the yearly cases between 2015 and 2021. 

Health officials interviewed the families of the children who were diagnosed in 2022. Most of them said that their children presented with cold symptoms and headaches. 

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When the children were admitted to the hospital, they weren't immediately diagnosed with a brain infection, officials said.

Three-quarters of the patients were diagnosed with sinusitis and the others were diagnosed with mastoiditis, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

Treatment for the infection varied. Officials said most patients required a craniotomy to drain the abscess. 

"No common exposures have been identified at this time," the Southern Nevada Health District stated in its advisory.

Health officials warn that treatment for this type of condition is important. Left untreated, people can have long-term neurological problems or even develop sepsis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While this type of infection, which typically starts in the nose, mouth or throat, is rare, health officials say there are things parents can do to protect their children. The CDC notes that the pneumococcal vaccine can help protect against this type of infection. 

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