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Int J Infect Dis. 2001;5(4):180-8.

Community-acquired bacteremia among hospitalized children in rural central Africa.

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  • 1Centre de Recherche en Sciences Naturelles, Lwiro, Democratic Republic of Congo.



To describe the epidemiology of community-acquired bacteremia in children admitted to a rural hospital in central Africa and to identify useful diagnostic signs or symptoms.


On admission, a blood culture was obtained from all children admitted to Children's Hospital of Lwiro between 1989 and 1990. Clinical and biologic signs of infection and nutritional status were recorded.


Among the 779 children included in the study, 15.9% were bacteremic on admission. The rate of bacteremia was the highest among children with jaundice (20/56; 35.7%) and fever (119/487; 24.4%). In contrast, children with severe malnutrition had a lower rate of bacteremia (13.2%) than weight growth retarded or well-nourished children (19.5%) (P = 0.046). Fever was the most useful diagnostic criteria (sensitivity and negative predictive value of 96.0% and 97.8%, respectively) even in severely malnourished children (sensitivity and negative predictive value of 96.4% and 99.1%, respectively). Enterobacteriacea, mostly Salmonella spp, caused 73% of the bacteremia. There was a high rate of resistance to ampicillin and chloramphenicol among the responsible organisms. Only 31 (47.7%) of 65 bacteremic children responded to the combination of ampicillin and gentamicin. The presence of bacteremia on admission did not significantly increase the risk of morality during hospitalization (19.4% compared with 13.5%; P = 0.088). Age less than 12 months and jaundice were independent risk factors for deaths in bacteremic children.


Community-acquired bacteremia caused by multiresistant Enterobacteriacea is an important problem of hospitalized well-nourished and malnourished children in central Africa. Fever on admission is a sensitive diagnostic sign, even in malnourished children.

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