Epidemiological aspects of liver abscesses in children in the Western Cape Province of South Africa
A high incidence (28 per 100,000 admissions) of liver abscesses is reported in children from the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Of a total of 84 childhood hepatic abscesses over a 10-year period, 51 per cent (43 patients) were primary pyogenic, 30 per cent (25 patients) amoebic, 2 per cent (two patients) Ascaris, and 17 per cent (14 patients) were culture negative. Protein calorie malnutrition was evident in 56 per cent of cases. Amoebic abscesses originated in patients from rural areas, whereas pyogenic abscesses occurred in patients from urban and periurban environments. Staphylococcus aureus was cultured in 85 per cent of pyogenic liver abscesses. Gram negative organisms were identified in four cases of amoebic hepatic abscess where secondary infection occurred. Co-existing parasites of Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura were identified in the stools of 31 per cent of patients. A low (4.8 per cent) mortality is reported for this series.