Objective.

To characterize the acute clinical course and economic burden of nonpolio enteroviral (NPEV) illness in the summer/fall season as seen in private pediatric practice.

Methods.

We prospectively studied 380 children aged 4 to 18 years with systemic NPEV syndromes presenting to private suburban pediatric practices. Seventy-three asymptomatic controls were concurrently enrolled. Clinical diagnosis of NPEV illness was based on the presence of fever plus at least one of the following: headache and stiff neck (n = 2); myalgia and malaise (n = 105); nonpuritic maculopapular rash (n = 10); papulovesicular stomatitis (n = 214); papular rash of the hands, feet, and mouth (H/F/M) (n = 30); or pleurodynia (n = 11). Study participants were enrolled during a 4-month time span (July–October, 1994) and followed daily for 14 days. A parent symptom diary card and twice weekly phone contacts by study nurses characterized the illness to include the frequency of health care contacts, the necessity for laboratory tests, medication use, and school/work absenteeism.

Results.

Three hundred seventy-two (98%) children completed the study; 122 (33%) of the patients were confirmed to be infected with NPEV. Confirmed NPEV infection was more frequently observed in Rochester, NY (85/147 = 58%) than in Scottsdale, AZ (32/224 = 14%). The age group 4 to 12 years comprised 79% to 90% of the enrollees, depending on the syndrome. Median duration of illness and median number of missed days of school/summer camp/work for the enrolled patients was: meningitis (7 days ill, 2 days missed), myalgia/malaise (9 days ill, 3 days missed), rash (6 days ill, 4 days missed), stomatitis (7 days ill, 2 days missed), H/F/M (7 days ill, 1 day missed), and pleurodynia (8 days ill, 3 days missed). Direct medical costs varied from $69 per case to $771 per case and indirect costs, attributable primarily to parent missed work and/or sick-child care, varied from $63 per case to $422 per case for H/F/M and meningitis, respectively. In households, H/F/M spread to 50% of siblings and 25% of parents.

Conclusions.

In our study population, NPEV infection: 1) caused sufficient illness to prompt physician visits in summer and fall; 2) occurred more frequently in 4 to 12 year olds than in adolescents; 3) produced various clinical syndromes concurrently during the same months in the same season of a given year; 4) varied in occurrence geographically; 5) was characterized by numerous symptoms of longer duration than previously recognized; and 6) produced a significant economic impact by generating both direct and indirect costs.

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