25 ELECTRICAL BURNS IN CHILDREN LIVING IN A SOUTH AFRICAN TOWNSHIP: CASUALTIES OF IMPROVISED ELECTRICITY ACCESS
Vered Lack, Martine Estevez, Jerome Loveland, Christopher Westgarth-Taylor
University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Introduction:

 Worldwide, electrical burns (EB) in children up to 16 years of age account for 2-6% of burns admissions. EB may be low voltage (LV) or high voltage (HV). At least 10% of the South Africans live in informal dwellings with no amenities, thus access to electricity may be illegally improvised from established infrastructure.

Aim of the Study:

To describe the epidemiology, presentation and management of EB injuries experienced by children presenting to a single-centre Paediatric Burns Unit (PBU).


Methods
:
A retrospective review of children up to 10 years of age, admitted to the Paediatric Burns Unit with EB, between September 2013 and August 2016 was performed.

Main Results:
103 cases of EB from a total of 1449 burns admissions, were identified. 91% were LV injuries with no mortalities, a male:female ratio of 3:1 and affected total body surface area (TBSA) of 0-15% (mean 2,45%). 9% were HV injuries with 6 mortalities, a male:female ratio of 8:1 and affected TBSA of 4%-76% (mean 36%). Mean age was 4.5 years with SD of 31 months. 56% came from areas with no formal household electrification. 81% of injuries were caused by outside wires and other illegal installations. There was a decreased frequency of injuries during winter. 73% had biochemistry derangements, 4% electrocardiogram abnormalities, and 5% experienced haematuria. Length of stay was 1-80 days (median of 2 days). 15% required various surgical interventions. There was no medical long-term follow-up after wound healing.

Conclusions:

  • EB accounted for 7% of total burns admissions (higher than worldwide figures).
  • The epidemiology and presentation of these injuries is unique and poses a public health challenge.
  • A long-term follow-up program is required to further quantify the magnitude of the injuries sustained.


Human Research Ethics Committee (Medical) Clearance Certificate Number M160507

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