Bacterial isolates from blood cultures of children with suspected septicaemia in Calabar, Nigeria

Author(s): Meremikwu MM, Nwachukwu CE, Asuquo AE, Okebe JU, Utsalo SJ


Background: Septicaemia is a common cause of morbidity and mortality among children in the developing world. This pattern has changed little in the past decade. Physical signs and symptoms, though useful in identifying possible cases have limited specificity. Definitive diagnosis is by bacteriologic culture of blood samples to identify organisms and establish antibiotic susceptibility. These results are usually not available promptly. Therefore a knowledge of epidemiologic and antimicribial susceptibility pattern of common pathogens is useful for prompt treatment of patients. This report highlights the pattern of bacterial isolates in our environment from a retrospective study of our patients' records.

Methods: One thousand, two hundred and one blood samples were analysed from children aged 0-15 years, admitted into the children's wards of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria with features suggesting septicaemia. Samples were collected under aseptic conditions and cultured for aerobic and anaerobic organisms. Isolates were identified using bacteriologic and biochemical methods and antibiotic sensitivity determined by agar diffusion method using standard antibiotic discs.

Results: Bacteria was isolated in 552 (48.9%) of samples with highest rates among newborns (271 : 50.8). The most frequent isolates were Staphylococcal aureus (48.7%) and Coliforms (23.4%). Results showed high susceptibilities to the Cephalosporins (Ceftriazone- 100%:83.2%, Cefuroxime-100%:76.5%) and Macrolides (Azithromycin-100%:92.9%) for S. aureus and coliforms respectively. This study underscores the importance of septicaemia as a common cause of febrile illness in children and provides information on common prevalent aetiologic agents and drug susceptibilities of the commonest pathogens.

Conclusion: Staphylococcus aureus and coliforms were the leading causes of septicaemia in children in this locality, and the third generation cephalosporins and azithromycin were shown to be effective against these pathogens.

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