Results of our survey indicate that pediatricians' self-reported management of the well-appearing young child with a fever without a source considerably change whether (s)he had received PCV or not. The majority (about 60%) of pediatricians/pediatric residents report to "wait-and see" if the child was not vaccinated with PCV, and this proportion significantly increased if the child had received PCV, reaching 76.0%. Parallel to this finding, physicians would choose to obtain blood tests and begin empiric antibiotic therapy less frequently in the vaccinated than in the not-vaccinated child. Empiric antibiotic therapy would be started by about 3.0% of participants if the child had received PCV. The preferred antibiotic treatment for empiric therapy was largely amoxicillin or amoxicillin/clavulanic acid. In the event that the child showed white blood cell count of 17,500/μL (making the risk of bacterial infection higher), one third of participants still would "wait-and see" and send the unvaccinated child home with no therapy. This rate reaches about 45% if the child was vaccinated with PCV, with no significant difference among results obtained by primary care or hospital pediatricians, or pediatric residents. A significantly lower proportion of participants would obtain erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C reactive protein, blood culture, and urine analysis/or dipstick if the child was vaccinated with PCV. Only two thirds of the our participants report to recommend routinely PCV. Additionally, we documented that self-reported use of quick tests (including C reactive protein quick test, group A β-haemolitic streptococcus rapid test, and urine dipstick) is widespread among Italian primary care pediatricians.
In general, our survey results show that management of the well-appearing young child with fever without source is heterogeneous among Italian pediatricians/pediatric residents. Similar data have been previously reported by Wittler and colleagues in 1998 , after the proposal of the U.S. guideline for the management of the febrile child . Later, this guideline has been revisited . Subsequently, other algorithms about the management of the febrile child have been published, including some regarding the "wait-and see" approach [12–15]. This approach was the preferred option by our participants, who likely considered the low risk of bacterial infection in this hypothetical child. Nevertheless, the fact that one third of participants still chooses this approach when white blood cell count is 17,500/μL raises concern.
Results similar to ours have been previously reported among United States pediatricians [7, 8]. It is worth noting that an unintended effect of PVC widespread on the management of the young children with a fever without a source may include reduced efforts to diagnose urinary tract infection, whose pathogenesis and incidence are not influenced by the child's anti-pneumococcal vaccination status. Possibly, physicians perceive that the PCV vaccinated child is, in general, at minimal risk for all bacterial infections. Indeed, several types of bacterial infections should be ruled out, besides Streptococcus pneumoniae infection, including those due to Neisseria meningitidis, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus .
The finding that only two-thirds of our participants report to recommend routinely PCV suggests that informative campaign is urgently needed in Italy. This is in strong contrast with results from the United States, where one year after PCV was recommended, nearly all pediatricians had incorporated this vaccine [15, 16].
The preferred antibiotic treatment for empiric therapy was oral amoxicillin. The low use of macrolides is justified in Italy, since bacterial resistance to this class of drugs is wide-spread, as well as in other European countries . The choice of an oral antibiotic with respect to ceftriaxone is in contrast with current guidelines, recommending ceftriaxone or another third generation cephalosporin . Pediatricians might have considered the results of studies showing equal efficacy of oral and parenteral antibiotics in preventing severe bacterial infections in well-appearing children with Streptococcus pneumoniae occult bacteraemia . Possibly, they considered the reduced discomfort from an oral course of antibiotics. However, it must be remembered that, according to the current guidelines, in a child older than three months, presenting with a fever and suspected serious bacterial infection, antibiotics should cover Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Haemophilus influenzae type b. Thus, ceftriaxone or cefotaxime should be considered as the first line therapy .
Our investigation has potential limitations. First, our results may not generalize to all pediatricians nationwide. Participans included in the study constituted approximately 10% of all the about 7500 Italian pediatricians working in Italy in 2007 (Italian Pediatric Society secretariat: personal communication), and were all attending the Annual Congress of the Italian Pediatric Society. Therefore, our study population may be not representative of all Italian pediatricians/pediatric residents. Second, it is well known that self-reported behavior can be misleading since some participants might not complete the survey as carefully as they would provide medical care . The fact that other two similar surveys conducted in the United States [7, 8] and one observational study on children attending an emergency department in Spain  documented results similar to ours further corroborate our findings. Finally, the attitude toward urine testing has been reported to vary among pediatricians, and a potential limitation of our study is that results may have differed if the child's age was younger or if the gender was specified .
Encouraging results of large epidemiological studies indicate substantial reduced risk of invasive pneumococcal infection in children vaccinated with PCV . The effects of decreased rates of pneumococcal disease on routine clinical practice are potentially significant . However, pneumococcal serotype replacement has been documented , and, to date, evidence is lacking to modify algorithms for the management of the febrile child, considering his/her PCV vaccination status.