Etiology and Risk Factors for Mortality in an Adult Community-acquired Pneumonia Cohort in Malawi

Stephen J. Aston, Antonia Ho, Hannah Jary, Jacqueline Huwa, Tamara Mitchell, Sarah Ibitoye, Simon Greenwood, Elizabeth Joekes, Arthur Daire, Jane Mallewa, Dean Everett, Mulinda Nyirenda, Brian Faragher, Henry C. Mwandumba, Robert S. Heyderman, Stephen B. Gordon

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44 Scopus citations


Rationale: In the context of rapid antiretroviral therapy rollout and an increasing burden of noncommunicable diseases, there are few contemporary data describing the etiology and outcome of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) in sub-Saharan Africa. Objectives: To describe the current etiology of CAP in Malawi and identify risk factors for mortality. Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of adults hospitalized with CAP to a teaching hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Etiology was defined by blood culture, Streptococcus pneumoniae urinary antigen detection, sputum mycobacterial culture and Xpert MTB/RIF, and nasopharyngeal aspirate multiplex PCR. Measurements and Main Results: In 459 patients (285 [62.1%] males; median age, 34.7 [interquartile range, 29.4–41.9] yr), 30-day mortality was 14.6% (64/439) and associated with male sex (adjusted odds ratio, 2.60 [95% confidence interval, 1.17–5.78]), symptom duration greater than 7 days (2.78 [1.40–5.54]), tachycardia (2.99 [1.48–6.06]), hypoxemia (4.40 [2.03–9.51]), and inability to stand (3.59 [1.72–7.50]). HIV was common (355/453; 78.4%), frequently newly diagnosed (124/355; 34.9%), but not associated with mortality. S. pneumoniae (98/458; 21.4%) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (75/326; 23.0%) were the most frequently identified pathogens. Viral infection occurred in 32.6% (148/454) with influenza (40/454; 8.8%) most common. Bacterial–viral coinfection occurred in 9.1% (28/307). Detection of M. tuberculosis was associated with mortality (adjusted odds ratio, 2.44 [1.19–5.01]). Conclusions: In the antiretroviral therapy era, CAP in Malawi remains predominantly HIV associated, with a large proportion attributable to potentially vaccine-preventable pathogens. Strategies to increase early detection and treatment of tuberculosis and improve supportive care, in particular the correction of hypoxemia, should be evaluated in clinical trials to address CAP-associated mortality.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)359-369
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Africa south of the Sahara
  • Community-acquired pneumonia
  • HIV
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae


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