Bacteremia may be inappropriately treated as malaria in children admitted with a febrile illness in Africa. We determined the prevalence, clinical features, and spectrum of bacteremia among febrile children younger than 5 years of age admitted with a negative malaria test, but prescribed antimalarials at a referral hospital in Jinja, Uganda. After initial evaluation, a blood sample was drawn from 250 children for a complete blood count and bacterial culture. Of 250 samples cultured, 15 grew organisms presumed to be skin contaminants, and of the remaining 235 samples, 45 (19.1%) had bacteremia. Staphylococcus aureus (42%), non-typhoidal Salmonella (24%), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (11%), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (9%) were the most common bacterial isolates. On multivariate analysis, history of weight loss (odds ratio [OR] = 2.75; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.27-5.95), presence of pulmonary crackles (OR = 3.63; 95% CI = 1.40-9.45), and leukocytosis (OR = 2.21; 95% CI = 1.09-4.47) were independent predictors of bacteremia. At a referral hospital in Uganda, bacteremia was a remarkably common finding in children with febrile illness who were treated for malaria despite negative malaria test results.
© The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.