Childhood bacterial meningitis in Mbarara Hospital, Uganda: antimicrobial susceptibility and outcome of treatment

  • Julius P Kiwanuka Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda
  • Juliet Mwanga Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda


Background : The recommended antibiotic treatment of bacterial meningitis has come under scrutiny following frequent reports of in-vitro resistance by the common causative organisms to penicillin and chloramphenicol.
Objective : The study recorded the causative organisms, antibiotic sensitivity patterns and outcome of treatment of bacterial meningitis in children and examined the impact of various factors on the recorded outcome.
Design : This was a retrospective review of all case records of patients treated for bacterial meningitis over a one-year period.
Setting : The study was set in the paediatric wards of Mbarara University Teaching Hospital, in south western Uganda.
Results : A total of 77 patients were treated. Among 56 patients with available CSF results the frequency of bacterial causes was as follows: H. influenzae 13(23.2%), coliforms 7(12.5%), uncultured Gram-negative bacilli 7(12.5%), S. pneumoniae 5(8.9%) and N. meningitidis 3(5.4%). Most isolates tested were resistant to both penicillin and chloramphenicol, but all were sensitive to ciprofloxacin and perfloxacin. Twenty eight(36.8%) patients died, 22(28.9%) survived with sequelae and 15(19.7%) improved without sequelae. 14/18 who received perfloxacin and/or ciprofloxacin survived compared with 23/47 who did not: p=0.04).
Conclusions : The high case-fatality rates and the high frequency of resistance to penicillin and chloramphenicol make a case for a review of the currently recommended antibiotic treatment of bacterial meningitis in this region. Fluoroquinolones need further evaluation as potential alternatives to chloramphenicol in the treatment of bacterial meningitis.

African Health Sciences 2001: 1(1): 9-11.

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eISSN: 1680-6905