Sepsis in sub-Saharan Africa: a prospective observational study of clinical characteristics, management, and outcomes for adolescents and adults with sepsis in northern Tanzania
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Background: Sepsis is a leading cause of death and disability globally. Despite a high burden of sepsis in sub-Saharan Africa, clinical data for sepsis in that setting are limited. We sought to describe the clinical characteristics, management, and outcomes in a cohort of adults and adolescents with sepsis in northern Tanzania. We also assessed for associations between clinical factors and in-hospital mortality.
Methods: We carried out a prospective observational cohort study at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre in Moshi, Tanzania. We collected data on demographics, baseline clinical characteristics, and management, with an emphasis on hours 0-6 after arrival to the Emergency Department. Log risk regression was carried out to assess for associations between demographic and clinical factors and our primary outcome of in-hospital death. Separate multivariable regression analyses were conducted for both antimicrobial administration by hour 6 and administration of intravenous (IV) fluids >1L by hour 6 and the outcome of in-hospital mortality.
Results: Fifty-eight participants were included in our analysis. Seventeen (29.3%) participants died in-hospital. Baseline characteristics associated with inpatient mortality included inability to drink unassisted, respiratory rate >30 breaths per minute, hypoxia, and altered mentation. Less than half of participants received any antimicrobial by hour 6, and most participants received <1L of IV fluids. HIV antibody testing was performed for only one participant in the first 6 hours. On multivariable analysis, neither antimicrobial administration nor IV fluids >1L by hour 6 was associated with inpatient mortality.
Conclusion: Sepsis in northern Tanzania carries a high risk of in-hospital mortality. Further research is urgently needed to establish the highest-yield interventions suited to the unique characteristics of sepsis in sSA.
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