Original Research

Bacterial infections in hospitalised severely malnourished children in Durban, South Africa

Lionel Nyamurenje, Moherndran Archary
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 33, No 5 | a139 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v33i5.139 | © 2019 Lionel Richard Nyamurenje, Moherndran Archary | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 May 2019 | Published: 13 August 2018

About the author(s)

Lionel Nyamurenje, Department of Paediatrics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Moherndran Archary, Department of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Background: Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) results in alterations of host defence mechanisms, which leads to increased susceptibility to infections. This study describes culture-confirmed bacterial infections in a cohort of HIV-negative severely malnourished children and compares it with a previously described cohort of HIV-positive children.
Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted of all HIV-negative children with SAM admitted to King Edward Hospital, Durban between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. All positive bacterial cultures obtained within 2 days of admission (admission infections) and during 2 to 30 days of admissions (hospital acquired infections) were documented. A cohort of HIV-positive children with SAM was prospectively recruited between July 2012 and February 2015 at the same facility for the MATCH study.
Results: A total of 101 patients were eligible for the study, 53% were HIV unexposed; 73% of the total 250 cultures obtained were during admission. Escherichia coli (E. coli) contributed 26% of all positive cultures on admission. Significant differences were noted in laboratory variables between HIV-negative vs. HIV-positive children admitted with SAM. Extended-spectrum betalactamase (ESBL) producers in HIV-positive patients constituted 40% of all Gram-negative isolates vs. 24% in HIV-negative patients.
Conclusion: Gram-negative organisms remain an area of concern in both HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients with SAM with resistant organisms more prevalent in HIV-positive patients. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV reduces prevalence and incidence of HIV, which has been shown to contribute to the burden of bacterial infections in malnourished children.


bacterial infections; HIV; severe acute malnutrition


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