Background: Bacterial sepsis is thought to be a major cause of young infant deaths in low-income countries, but there are few precise estimates of its burden or causes. We studied invasive bacterial infections (IBIs) in young infants, born at home or in first-level health units ("outborn") who were admitted to a Kenyan rural district hospital during an 8-year period.
Methods: Clinical and microbiologic data, from admission blood cultures and cerebrospinal fluid cultures on all outborn infants aged less than 60 days admitted from 2001 to 2009, were examined to determine etiology of IBI and antimicrobial susceptibilities.
Results: Of the 4467 outborn young infants admitted, 748 (17%) died. Five hundred five (11%) had IBI (10% bacteremia and 3% bacterial meningitis), with a case fatality of 33%. The commonest organisms were Klebsiella spp., Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Group B Streptococcus, Acinetobacter spp., Escherichia coli, and Group A Streptococcus. Notably, some blood culture isolates were seen in outborn neonates in the first week of life but not in inborns: Salmonella, Aeromonas, and Vibrio spp. Eighty-one percent of isolates were susceptible to penicillin and/or gentamicin and 84% to ampicillin and/or gentamicin. There was a trend to increasing in vitro antimicrobial resistance to these combinations from 2008 but without a worse outcome.
Conclusions: IBI is common in outborn young infants admitted to rural African hospitals with a high mortality. Presumptive antimicrobial use is justified for all young infants admitted to the hospital.