Infantile hydrocephalus in East Africa is predominantly postinfectious. The microbial origins remain elusive, since most patients present with postinfectious hydrocephalus after antecedent neonatal sepsis (NS) has resolved.
To characterize this syndrome in Ugandan infants, the authors used polymerase chain reaction targeting bacterial 16S ribosomal DNA from CSF to determine if bacterial residua from recent infections were detectable. Bacteria were identified based on the relationship of genetic sequences obtained with reference bacteria in public databases. The authors evaluated samples from patients presenting during dry and rainy seasons and performed environmental sampling in the villages of patients.
Bacterial DNA was recovered from 94% of patients. Gram-negative bacteria in the phylum Proteobacteria were the most commonly detected. Within this phylum, Gammaproteobacteria dominated in patients presenting after infections during the rainy season, and Betaproteobacteria was most common following infections during the dry season. Acinetobacter species were identified in the majority of patients admitted after rainy season infection.
Postinfectious hydrocephalus in Ugandan infants appears associated with predominantly enteric gram-negative bacteria. These findings highlight the need for linking these cases with antecedent NS to develop more effective treatment and prevention strategies.
Abbreviations used in this paper: NS = neonatal sepsis; PCR = polymerase chain reaction; PIH = postinfectious hydrocephalus.
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