OBJECTIVE. Kingella kingae, a Gram-negative coccobacillus, is being increasingly recognized as an invasive pathogen in children, causing mainly bacteremia and arthritis; however, there have been only a few studies on K kingae infections to date, mostly small-scale series. The aim of this study was to report our experience with invasive K kingae infections in children who were hospitalized at a major tertiary medical center in Israel.

METHODS. The medical charts of 62 children with proven invasive K kingae infections were reviewed: 42 with positive blood culture results and 20 with positive synovial fluid culture results.

RESULTS. Most infections occurred among previously healthy children aged 5 to 22 months. Eighty percent had a mild concurrent illness of the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract. A chronic underlying disease was documented in 19% of the 1- to 15-year-old children with bacteremia. Three patients had persistent bacteremia, identified by 2 positive blood cultures drawn 1 to 4 days apart. Four (10%) patients from the bacteremia group had endocarditis, and 2 required emergency cardiac surgery. Only a mild-to-moderate elevation of serum inflammatory markers was noted except for patients with endocarditis or a prolonged course of arthritis. Patients with bacteremia received a diagnosis significantly later than those with arthritis, with no other between-group differences in age, month of disease onset, and inflammatory marker levels. All K kingae isolates were resistant to vancomycin and clindamycin.

CONCLUSIONS. Our large series indicates that invasive K kingae infections occur in previously healthy children, mostly during the first 2 years of life; affected older children usually have an underlying medical condition. The infection generally elicits only a mild inflammatory response unless accompanied by endocarditis. Despite its low virulence, K kingae might cause a life-threatening heart disease that requires emergent, aggressive treatment.

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