Fever is the most common sign of childhood illness among pre-school children. Normal body temperature varies from one child to another throughout the day. In fact, children do crazy things when they get a fever. They don’t sleep well, eat inadequately and act strangely.
Most acute fever in children is caused by viral infections or certain bacterial infections (pneumonia, urinary tract infections). Genetic markers can reduce the morbidity and mortality of a febrile child.
Viral infections are the common cause of fever without an obvious symptom in young children. Even in the absence of bacterial infection, many febrile children are treated with antibiotics. Differentiating bacterial from viral infections is important to limit the use and misuse of antibiotics.
Fever in children is mainly due to self-remitting viral infection, but some could be caused by life-threatening bacterial infections. There are only some minor differences in the clinical features between the two types of infections, sometimes severe bacterial infections are missed out while children with minor viral infections are prescribed antibiotics unnecessarily.
A genetic test can help with appropriate treatment for fever in children. Recently, Two studies used genetic tests to distinguish bacterial infections from viral infections in children and infants with fever. This test helps determine whether the cause of fever is due to bacterial or viral infections.
RNA expression signature using blood samples could help to distinguish bacterial infections from viral infections. RNA sequencing may prove to be an effective alternative to identify bacterial infections in febrile children and infants which would help the clinicians avoid invasive procedures and antibiotics when they are not required.
RNA signature also helped to distinguish between bacterial from other conditions such as childhood inflammatory disease and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Such genetic identification and advances in the field would reduce the morbidity and mortality and the associated cost incurred due to medical expenses.