To review the epidemiology and clinical course of facial cellulitis attributable toStreptococcus pneumoniae in children.


Cases were reviewed retrospectively at 8 children's hospitals in the United States for the period of September 1993 through December 1998.


We identified 52 cases of pneumococcal facial cellulitis (45 periorbital and 7 buccal). Ninety-two percent of patients were <36 months old. Most were previously healthy; among the 6 with underlying disease were the only 2 patients with bilateral facial cellulitis. Fever (temperature: ≥100.5°F) and leukocytosis (white blood cell count: >15 000/mm3) were noted at presentation in 78% and 82%, respectively. Two of 15 patients who underwent lumbar puncture had cerebrospinal fluid with mild pleocytosis, which was culture-negative. All patients had blood cultures positive for S pneumoniae. Serotypes 14 and 6B accounted for 53% and 27% of isolates, respectively. Overall, 16% and 4% were nonsusceptible to penicillin and ceftriaxone, respectively. Such isolates did not seem to cause disease that was either more severe or more refractory to therapy than that attributable to penicillin-susceptible isolates. Overall, the patients did well; one third were treated as outpatients.


Pneumococcal facial cellulitis occurs primarily in young children (<36 months of age) who are at risk for pneumococcal bacteremia. They present with fever and leukocytosis. Response to therapy is generally good in those with disease attributable to penicillin-susceptible or -nonsusceptible S pneumoniae. Ninety-six percent of the serotypes causing facial cellulitis in this series are included in the heptavalent-conjugated pneumococcal vaccine recently licensed in the United States.

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