Bacterial meningitis in malawian infants <2 months of age: Etiology and susceptibility to World Health Organization first-line antibiotics

Olivia Swann, Dean B. Everett, Jeremry S. Furyk, Ewen M. Harrison, Malango T. Msukwa, Robert S. Heyderman, Elizabeth M. Molyneux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Neonatal meningitis is an important cause of morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa and requires urgent empiric treatment with parenteral administered antibiotics. Here we describe the etiology, antimicrobial susceptibility and suitability of the World Health Organization first-line recommended antibiotics (penicillin and gentamicin) for bacterial meningitis in young infants in Malawi. METHODS: We reviewed all cerebrospinal fluid samples received from infants ≤2 months of age with clinically suspected meningitis between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2008, at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. RESULTS: We identified 259 culture-positive isolates from 259 infants ≤2 months of age. Sixty isolates were from neonates ≤7 days old, in whom the most common pathogens were Group B Streptococcus (27/60; 45.0%), Streptococcus pneumoniae (13/60; 21.7%) and nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica (7/60; 11.7%). One hundred and ninety one isolates were from young infants who were >7 days and ≤2 months of age. In this group, the most common isolates were S. pneumoniae (80/191; 41.9%), Group B Streptococcus (38/191; 19.9%) and nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica (34/191; 17.8%). More isolates were susceptible to ceftriaxone than to the combination of penicillin and gentamicin (218/220; 99.1% vs. 202/220; 91.8%, Fisher's exact test P = 0.006). In particular, Gram-negative isolates were significantly more susceptible to ceftriaxone than to gentamicin (72/74; 97.3% vs. 63/74; 85.1%, Fisher's exact test P = 0.020). Penicillin and gentamicin provided less coverage for Gram-negative than Gram-positive isolates (74/86; 86.0% vs. 155/163; 95.1%, χ = 6.24, P = 0.012). CONCLUSIONS: In view of these results, the World Health Organization recommendations for empiric penicillin and gentamicin for suspected neonatal meningitis should be reevaluated.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)560-565
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

Keywords

  • Africa
  • drug resistance
  • infant
  • meningitis
  • microbial
  • Newborn

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