Should first-line empiric treatment strategies cover coagulase-negative staphylococcal infections in severely malnourished or HIV-infected children in Kenya?

PLoS One. 2017 Aug 7;12(8):e0182354. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182354. eCollection 2017.


Background: Bloodstream infection is a common cause of morbidity in children aged <5 years in developing countries. In studies reporting bacteremia in Africa, coagulase-negative Staphylococci (CoNS) are commonly isolated. However, it is currently unclear whether children who are highly susceptible to infection because of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) or HIV should be treated with antimicrobials specifically to cover CoNS. We aimed to determine the clinical significance of CoNS amongst children admitted to a rural hospital in Kenya in relation to nutritional and HIV status.

Methods: Systematically collected clinical and microbiological surveillance data from children aged 6-59 months admitted to Kilifi County Hospital (2007-2013) were analysed. Multivariable regression was used to test associations between CoNS isolation from blood cultures and SAM (MUAC <11.5cm or nutritional oedema (kwashiorkor)), and HIV serostatus; and among children with SAM or HIV, associations between CoNS isolation and mortality, duration of hospitalization and clinical features.

Results: CoNS were isolated from blood culture in 906/13,315 (6.8%) children, of whom 135/906 (14.9%) had SAM and 54/906 (6.0%) were HIV antibody positive. CoNS isolation was not associated with SAM (MUAC<11.5cm (aOR 1.11, 95% CI 0.88-1.40) or kwashiorkor (aOR 0.84, 95% CI 0.48-1.49)), or a positive HIV antibody test (aOR 1.25, 95% CI 0.92-1.71). Among children with SAM or a positive HIV antibody test, CoNS isolation was not associated with mortality or prolonged hospitalization.

Conclusion: In a large, systematic study, there was no evidence that antimicrobial therapy should specifically target CoNS amongst children with SAM or HIV-infection or exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteremia / complications
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coagulase / metabolism
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kenya
  • Kwashiorkor / complications*
  • Male
  • Staphylococcal Infections / complications*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus / enzymology*
  • Staphylococcus / physiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Coagulase