What to know about symptoms, causes of pediatric brain infections on the rise in Southern Nevada

Brain scan
Brain scan(WECT)
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 1:48 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The recent investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into a cluster of brain abscesses in Las Vegas children means parents and guardians should be wary of the symptoms and causes.

In 2022, the number of brain abscesses in kids tripled in Nevada, rising from an average of four to five a year to 18.

The cause behind the infliction is usually viruses, fungi - and bacteria, usually cited as the most common source according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The infection spreads from another area of the body, likely an ear, sinus, or dental infection. Children usually at higher risk are those with:

  • Heart disease that is present from birth (congenital)
  • Meningitis
  • Long-term (chronic) middle ear and sinus infections
  • Dental or jaw infections
  • Infections of the face or scalp
  • Head injury or skull fracture
  • Diabetes
  • Treatment for broken neck or post-surgery called traction, which uses pins or screws in the skull to hold the head and neck still
  • Infection of a small tube (shunt) used to drain extra CSF
  • A weak immune system, caused by medicines or health conditions such as HIV

Symptoms vary but usually in babies and children can include fever, bulging of soft spots on the head, abnormal sleepiness, irritability, high-pitched cry, projectile vomiting, and seizures.

A brain abscess can be diagnosed via blood tests, X-ray, MRI, CT scan, ultrasound or other tests.