Objective: Pneumonia, meningitis and other serious infections are leading causes of death in developing countries. As part of a multicenter study we aimed to determine the etiology of pneumonia, meningitis and other serious infections in a cohort of Filipino infants ages 90 days or younger.
Method: During a 2-year period, 2053 infants age 90 days or younger presenting to 1 of 3 Manila community hospitals were screened; 873 had signs or symptoms suggestive of an infectious illness, and 608 were judged to have clinical features suggestive of severe infection and had laboratory workup including blood for culture and white blood cell count, nasopharyngeal aspirate for virology, cerebrospinal fluid culture when indicated and chest radiograph. Chest radiographs were read independently by 3 radiologists without knowledge of clinical findings.
Results: Of the 873 enrolled infants, 81 died (91%). After exclusion of presumed contaminants, positive bacterial culture from blood and/or cerebrospinal fluid was obtained in 35 infants (5.8%; 95% confidence interval 4%, 8%), 9 of whom died. The organisms responsible for meningitis were Acinetobacter spp. (4), Streptococcus pneumoniae (2), Escherichia coli (2), Enterobacter spp. (1), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (1), Haemophilus influenzae (1) and Staphylococcus aureus (1); those responsible for the other clinical diagnoses were Salmonella spp. (6), Enterobacter spp. (3), Streptococcus pyogenes (3), other Gram-negative organisms (8), S. pneumoniae (1) and Staphylococcus aureus (2). In 685 infants examined for viral causes of their illness, 223 viruses were isolated from 219 infants (32%; 95% confidence interval 28%, 36%). Enteroviruses were the most common potential pathogens identified (22% of infants studied), followed by respiratory syncytial virus (17%), rhinovirus (10%) and adenovirus (4%). Concomitant virus identification occurred in 10 of those with positive bacterial culture (29%; 95% confidence interval, 15%, 46%), with enterovirus being found in 7 of these cases.
Conclusion: Many young Filipino infants with life-threatening illness were evaluated in this study. Thirty-five had infections attributable to bacteria, with Salmonella spp. being the most common, followed by Gram-negative organisms. Pneumococcus was an unusual cause.