Use of clinical syndromes to target antibiotic prescribing in seriously ill children in malaria endemic area: observational study.
Berkley JA., Maitland K., Mwangi I., Ngetsa C., Mwarumba S., Lowe BS., Newton CRJC., Marsh K., Scott JAG., English M.
OBJECTIVES: To determine how well antibiotic treatment is targeted by simple clinical syndromes and to what extent drug resistance threatens affordable antibiotics. DESIGN: Observational study involving a priori definition of a hierarchy of syndromic indications for antibiotic therapy derived from World Health Organization integrated management of childhood illness and inpatient guidelines and application of these rules to a prospectively collected dataset. SETTING: Kilifi District Hospital, Kenya. PARTICIPANTS: 11,847 acute paediatric admissions. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Presence of invasive bacterial infection (bacteraemia or meningitis) or Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia; antimicrobial sensitivities of isolated bacteria. RESULTS: 6254 (53%) admissions met criteria for syndromes requiring antibiotics (sick young infants; meningitis/encephalopathy; severe malnutrition; very severe, severe, or mild pneumonia; skin or soft tissue infection): 672 (11%) had an invasive bacterial infection (80% of all invasive bacterial infections identified), and 753 (12%) died (93% of all inpatient deaths). Among P falciparum infected children with a syndromic indication for parenteral antibiotics, an invasive bacterial infection was detected in 4.0-8.8%. For the syndrome of meningitis/encephalopathy, 96/123 (76%) isolates were fully sensitive in vitro to penicillin or chloramphenicol. CONCLUSIONS: Simple clinical syndromes effectively target children admitted with invasive bacterial infection and those at risk of death. Malaria parasitaemia does not justify withholding empirical parenteral antibiotics. Lumbar puncture is critical to the rational use of antibiotics.