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J Clin Microbiol. 2011 Feb;49(2):671-6. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01864-10. Epub 2010 Nov 24.

Bacteremia in Kenyan children presenting with malaria.

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University of New Mexico/Kenya Medical Research Institute, Laboratories of Parasitic and Viral Diseases, Centre for Global Health Research, Kisumu, Kenya.


Since the etiologies and clinical outcomes of bacteremia in children with Plasmodium falciparum infections, particularly in areas of holoendemic malaria transmission, are largely unexplored, blood cultures and comprehensive clinical, laboratory, hematological, and nutritional parameters for malaria-infected children (aged 1 to 36 months, n = 585 patients) were investigated at a rural hospital in western Kenya. After the exclusion of contaminant microorganisms, the prevalence of bacteremia was 11.7% in the cohort (n = 506), with nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. being the most common isolates (42.4%). Bacteremia was found to occur in a significantly higher proportion of females than males and was associated with elevated blood glucose concentrations and lowered malaria parasite and hemoglobin (Hb) levels compared to those in abacteremic participants. In addition, the incidences of respiratory distress and severe malarial anemia (SMA; Hb level of <6.0 g/dl) were nonsignificantly greater in children with bacteremia. Mortality was 8.5-fold higher in children with bacteremia. Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed that bacteremia was significantly associated with reduced incidences of high-density parasitemia (HDP; ≥ 10,000/μl) and increased incidences of malnutrition (i.e., underweight; weight-for-age Z score of <-2 using the NCHS system). Since previous studies showed that bacteremia caused by Gram-negative organisms is associated with enhanced anemia and mortality, multivariate logistic regression was also performed separately for randomly age- and gender-matched children with bacteremia caused by Gram-negative organisms (n = 37) and for children found to be abacteremic (n = 74). These results revealed that the presence of bacteremia caused by Gram-negative organisms was significantly associated with reduced HDP, enhanced susceptibility to respiratory distress, SMA (Hb level of <6.0 g/dl), and being underweight (Z score, <-2). Data presented here from a region of holoendemic P. falciparum transmission demonstrate that although bacteremia is associated with reduced malaria parasitemia, a number of unfavorable clinical outcomes, including malnutrition, respiratory distress, anemia, and mortality, are elevated in children with bacteremia, particularly in cases of Gram-negative origin.

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