Health officials are investigating a growing number of brain abscesses in children first noticed in Las Vegas but now rising in other parts of the country too.
Dr. Taryn Bragg, an associate professor at the University of Utah and the only pediatric neurosurgeon for the state of Nevada, began noticing a large increase in cases of brain infections among children beginning in March 2022. “I was seeing large numbers of cases and that’s unusual,” Bragg told CNN in a Friday report.
During that time, the number of brain abscesses in kids tripled in Nevada, rising from an average of four to five a year to 18, the outlet reported. As the only doctor treating the cases in the state of Nevada, Bragg took note of this unusual increase and notified public health authorities.
“In my 20 years’ experience, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bragg told CNN.
Disease detectives with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating a cluster of rare and serious brain abscesses in kids in and around Las Vegas https://t.co/e9MP2ivciu
— CBS News Bay Area (@KPIXtv) April 28, 2023
Bragg revealed that cases all began similarly, starting off as a common complaint such as an earache or sinus infection. Within a week, however, it was evident that the children were suffering from something more severe.
Bragg’s observations in Nevada were presented at the Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference on April 27, where doctors from other parts of the country revealed they are also seeing an increase in brain abscesses affecting children, CNN reported.
“We’re just impressed by the number of these that we’re seeing right now,” Dr. Sunil Sood, a pediatric infectious disease specialist in New York, told CNN. By Sood’s estimates, their medical facility is seeing at least twice as many pediatric brain infections than usual, though he admits they don’t have a formal number of cases. Still, Sood urged the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to investigate the issue and spread the word among the medical community, the outlet stated.
Sood believes that Covid-19 temporarily displaced other infections. Now that Covid-19 cases have begun to fall, other illnesses have come “roaring” back which could explain the increase in brain infections. Because brain abscesses are usually caused by a very small percentage of sinus infections and inner ear infections in kids, the increase in those infections would logically increase the number of brain infections seen, Sood reasoned, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Doctors Say COVID Lockdowns May Be To Blame For Sudden Spread Of Deadly Children’s Virus)
Bragg indicated that she has treated two new cases of pediatric brain abscesses this year, though it appears the incidence of new cases is slowing down. Dr. Jessica Penney, a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service officer, assured. that the CDC will continue to monitor the situation throughout the year, CNN reported.