Changes in Escherichia coli resistance to co-trimoxazole in tuberculosis patients and in relation to co-trimoxazole prophylaxis in Thyolo, Malawi

  • R Zachariah
  • AD Harries
  • MP Spielmann
  • V Arendt
  • D Nchingula
  • R Mwenda
  • O Courtielle
  • P Kirpach
  • B Mwale
  • FML Salaniponi


In Thyolo district, Malawi, an operational research study is being conducted on the efficacy and feasibility of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis in preventing deaths in HIV-positive patients with tuberculosis (TB). A series of cross-sectional studies were carried out to determine i) whether faecal Escherichia coli (E.coli) resistance to co-trimoxazole in TB patients changed with time and ii) whether the resistance pattern was different in HIV positive TB patients who were taking co-trimoxazole prophylaxis. Co-trimoxazole resistance among E.coli isolates in TB patients at the time of registration was 60% in 1999 and 77% in 2001 (p<0.01). Resistance was 89% among HIV-infected TB patients (receiving co-trimoxazole), while in HIV negative patients (receiving anti-TB therapy alone) it was 62% (p<0.001). The study shows a significant increase of E.coli resistance to co-trimoxazole in TB patients which is particularly prominent in HIV infected patients on co-trimoxazole prophylaxis. Since a high degree of plasmid-mediated transfer of resistance exists between E.coli and the Salmonella species, these findings could herald limitations on the short and long term benefits to be anticipated from the use of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis in preventing non-typhoidal salmonella bacteraemia and enteritis in HIV infected TB patients in Malawi.

[Malawi Med J. Vol.14(2) 2002: 10-12]

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eISSN: 1995-7262
print ISSN: 1995-7262