Ugeskr Læger 2002;164(20): 2617-23.
Summary Fever and skin haemorrhages in children:Is it meningococcal disease? Ugeskr Læger 2002; 164: 2617-23. Introduction: Our main aims were to establish criteria for early distinction between meningococcal disease and other conditions with similar clinical features, and to identify other causes of haemorrhagic rashes accompanied by fever. Materials and methods: This prospective study comprised 264 infants and children hospitalised with fever and skin haemorrhages. Results: We identified an aetiological agent in 28%: 15% had meningococcal disease, 2% another invasive bacterial infection, 7% enterovirus infection, and 4% adenovirus infection. Five clinical variables discriminated meningococcal disease from other conditions on admission: skin haemorrhages of (1) characteristic appearance; (2) universal distribution and (3) a maximum diameter of >2 mm; (4) poor general condition; and (5) nuchal rigidity. Discussion: If any two or more of these clinical variables were present, the probability of identifying a patient with meningococcal disease was 97% and the false-positive rate was only 12%. This diagnostic algorithm did not identify children in whom septicaemia was caused by other bacterial species.