Neonatal sepsis contributes significantly to morbidity and mortality among young infants. The aetiological agents as well as their susceptibility to antimicrobial agents are dynamic. This study determined aetiology, antimicrobial susceptibility and clinical outcome of neonatal sepsis at Muhimbili National Hospital.
Three hundred and thirty neonates admitted at the Muhimbili National Hospital neonatal ward between October, 2009 and January, 2010 were recruited. Standardized questionnaires were used to obtain demographic and clinical information. Blood and pus samples were cultured on MacConkey, blood and chocolate agars and bacteria were identified based on characteristic morphology, gram stain appearance and standard commercially prepared biochemical tests. Antimicrobial sensitivity testing was performed for ampicillin, cloxacillin, gentamicin, amikacin, cefuroxime and ceftriaxone on Mueller Hinton agar using the Kirby Bauer diffusion method.
Culture proven sepsis was noted in 24% (74/330) of the study participants. Isolated bacterial pathogens were predominantly Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella spp and Escherichia coli. Klebsiella spp 32.7% (17/52) was the predominant blood culture isolate in neonates aged below seven days while Staphylococcus aureus 54.5% (12/22) was commonest among those aged above seven days. Staphylococcus aureus was the predominant pus swabs isolate for both neonates aged 0–6 days 42.2% (98/232) and 7–28 days 52.3% (34/65). Resistance of blood culture isolates was high to ampicillin 81.1% (60/74) and cloxacillin 78.4% (58/74), moderate to ceftriaxone 14.9% (11/74) and cefuroxime 18.9% (14/74), and low to amikacin 1.3% (1/74). Isolates from swabs had high resistance to ampicillin 89.9% (267/297) and cloxacillin 85.2 (253/297), moderate resistance to ceftriaxone 38.0% (113/297) and cefuroxime 36.0% (107/297), and low resistance to amikacin 4.7% (14/297). Sepsis was higher in neonates with fever and hypothermia (p=0.02), skin pustules (p<0.001), umbilical pus discharge and abdominal wall hyperemia (p=0.04). Presence of skin pustules was an independent predictor of sepsis OR 0.26, 95% CI (0.10-0.66) p=0.004. The overall death rate was 13.9% (46/330), being higher in neonates with sepsis 24.3% (18/74) than those without 10.9% (28/256), p=0.003.
Staphylococcus aureus was predominant isolate followed by Klebsiella and Escherichia coli. There was high resistance to ampicillin and cloxacillin. Mortality rate due to neonatal sepsis was high in our setting. Routine antimicrobial surveillance should guide the choice of antibiotics for empirical treatment of neonatal sepsis.