Take Precautions with Fever and Infection
Patients and families must always be watchful for the development of fever and should seek immediate medical care for any fever of 101°F or greater.
The medical fever workup should include laboratory evaluations (blood cultures, complete blood count with reticulocyte count) and antibiotics which should be given as a shot in the muscle or the vein, in addition to other tests based on symptoms. Quick evaluation with blood cultures and treatment with antibiotics may be lifesaving.
All infants less than one year of age should be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics and observation for at least 48 hours, given the high risk of overwhelming sepsis (blood infection) with infectious organisms. This type of infection can cause death.
Children may not be able to express these symptoms as clearly. Therefore, it is critical that children with fever be evaluated by a medical provider, either in the clinic or emergency room. Other signs of a possible complication are chills, lethargy (excessive tiredness or “droopy”), irritability (fussiness), poor feeding, cough, shortness of breath, or vomiting.
TREATING INFECTIONS IN ADULT PATIENTS
Pneumococcal infections are less common after five years of age. Infections in adults tend to occur in areas of the body damaged by recurrent sickling such as the lungs, kidneys, or bones. Even mild infections have the potential to worsen rapidly in routine settings.
Low-grade fever (less than 101°F) often happens with vaso-occlusive pain episodes, but infection must always be ruled out. All adults with sickle cell disease should seek immediate medical attention when fever is greater than 101.3°F or above, due to the risk of severe bacterial infection.