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Background: Bacterial meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges that occurs in response to bacteria, causing a significant number of morbidity and mortality worldwide, especially in newborns and people living in low-income countries. Diagnosis of bacterial meningitis combines a high index of clinical suspicion and laboratory confirmation through cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis. Despite antibiotic treatment, mortality remains high and many children end with long-term consequences, which include neurological deficits, hearing loss, and cognitive impairment.
Objective: To determine prevalence, aetiological agents, and antimicrobial sensitivity pattern among children aged less than 13 years with bacterial meningitis at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC), Moshi, Tanzania.
Methods: This was a hospital-based cross-sectional study carried out in the KCMC paediatric ward from December 2013 to May 2014 and from June 2015 to April 2016. In total, 161 children aged less than 13 years suspected of having meningitis were consecutively recruited. Each child submitted to a lumber puncture and CSF collected for microscopy, cultures, antimicrobial sensitivity testing, a latex agglutination test, and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. PCR was run on 129 of the selected CSF samples. Data were collected using structured questionnaires and laboratory data sheet. Aetiological agents were identified, and antibiotic sensitivity was tested. Analyses were performed using SPSS version 20.0.
Results: Overall, 24 children had confirmation of having acute bacterial meningitis. Of the 161 participants, Gram stain and culture identified 4 (2.5%) children; whereas, of the 129 samples tested using the PCR, infection was confirmed in 24 (18.6%) children. Escherichia coli (n=18) was the most common organism isolated followed by Listeria monocytogenes (n=3), Streptococcus pneumonia (n=1), Group B Streptococcus (n=1), and Klebsiella species (spp.) (n=1). With the exception of Klebsiella spp., the isolated organisms were sensitive to the following commonly used antibiotics: ampicillin, chloramphenicol, gentamycin, and cephalosporin.
Conclusion: PCR yielded more organisms. E. coli was the most common organism and was sensitive to the empirically used antibiotics for treatment of bacterial meningitis tested in our study.