Bacteraemia among severely malnourished children infected and uninfected with the human immunodeficiency virus-1 in Kampala, Uganda
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: To establish the magnitude of bacteraemia in severely malnourished children, and describe the types of bacteria and antimicrobial sensitivity by HIV status. Method: Isolates were recovered from 76 blood specimens. Antibiotic susceptibility tests were performed using commercial antibiotic disks and demographic and clinical findings were recorded. Results: Of the 450 children 63% were male; median age 17.0 months (inter quartile range, IQR 12–24) and 57% had oedema. 151 (36.7 %) of 411 tested HIV-positive; 76 (17.1%) of 445 blood specimens grew bacterial isolates; 58% were Gram negative – S. typhimurium (27.6%) and S. enteriditis (11.8%). Staph. aureus (26.3%) and Strep. pneumoniae (13.2%) were the main Gram positive organisms. There was no difference in the risk of bacteraemia by HIV status, age < 24 months, male sex, or oedema, except for oral thrush (OR 2.3 CI 1.0–5.1) and hypoalbuminaemia (OR 3.5 CI 1.0–12.1). Isolates from severely immuno-suppressed children (CD4% <15%) were more likely to grow Salmonella enteriditis (OR 5.4; CI 1.6 – 17.4). The isolates were susceptible (≥ 80%) to ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone and gentamicin; with low susceptibility to chlorampenicol, ampicillin (< 50%) and co-trimoxazole (<25%). Suspicion of bacteraemia had 95.9% sensitivity and 99.2% specificity. Among bacteraemic children, mortality was higher (43.5% vs 20.5%) in the HIV-positive; OR 3.0 (95%CI 1.0, 8.6). Conclusion: Bacteraemia affects 1 in every 6 severely malnourished children and carries high mortality especially among the HIV-positive. Given the high level of resistance to common antibiotics, there is need for clinical trials to determine the best combinations of antibiotics for management of bacteraemia in severely malnourished children.