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Tanzania Journal of Health Research
Health User's Trust Fund (HRUTF)
ISSN: 1821-6404
Vol. 11, Num. 3, 2009, pp. 154-161

Tanzania Journal of Health Research, Vol. 11, No. 3, July, 2009, pp. 154-161

Prevalence of urinary tract infection among pregnant women at Bugando Medical Centre, Mwanza, Tanzania

A. Masinde1*, B. Gumodoka1, A. Kilonzo1 and S.E. Mshana2

1Department of Obstetric and Gynaecology, Bugando Medical Centre, P.O.  Box 1370, Mwanza, Tanzania
2Weill Bugando University College of Health Sciences, P.O. Box 1464 Mwanza, Tanzania

Received 1 April 2009
Revised 15 June 2009 
Accepted 17 June 2009

Code Number: th09027

Abstract

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are the most common bacterial infections during pregnancy and these infections. Untreated UTI can be associated with serious obstetric complications. This cross-sectional study was carried out to determine the prevalence of UTI among symptomatic and asymptomatic pregnant women attending Bugando Medical centre (BMC) in Mwanza, Tanzania. A total of 247 pregnant women were enrolled, of these 78 (31.5%) were symptomatic and 169 (68.4%) asymptomatic. UTI was diagnosed using mid stream urine (MSU) culture on standard culture media and urinalysis was done using rapid dip stick. The prevalence of bacteriuria among symptomatic and asymptomatic pregnant women were 17.9% and 13.0% respectively, with no significant difference between the two groups (P= 0.307).  Using univariate analysis there was no association of parity (P=0.825), gestational age (P=0.173), education (P=0.615), age (P=0.211) and marital status (P=0.949) with bacteriuria. The sensitivity and specificity of urine dipstick was 38.9% and 86.7% respectively. Escherichia coli (47.2%) and Enterococcus spp (22.2%) were the most commonly recovered pathogens. The rate of resistance of Escherichia coli to ampicillin, tetracycline, sulfamethaxazole/trimethoprim, gentamicin, ciprofloxacin, nitrofurantoin, ceftriaxone, and  imipenem were 53%, 58.8%, 64.7%, 5.9%, 11.8%, 5.9%, 29.4% and 0%, respectively. In conclusion, asymptomatic bacteriuria among pregnant women is prevalent in our setting and majority of Escherichia coli are resistant to ampicillin, tetracycline, SXT and ceftriaxone. Due to low sensitivity of rapid dip stick, routine urine culture and susceptibility testing is recommended to all pregnant women at booking.

Key words: Urinary tract infection, pregnancy, bacteriuria, Escherichia coli, Tanzania

Introduction

Urinary tract infections are the most common bacterial infections during pregnancy accounting for approximately 10% of hospital visits by women (Millar et al 1997). These infections can be asymptomatic or symptomatic bacteriuria occurring in 5–10% and 1–3% among pregnant women, respectively (Gilstrap et al 2001). In a study in Hanang in northern Tanzania a prevalence of UTI of 16.4 % among pregnant women has been reported by Olsen et al. (2000). Urinary tract infection can be associated with increased risk to the foetus and the mother (Macejko et al 2007). The physiological changes that occur in urinary tact during pregnancy can cause otherwise healthy women to be more susceptible to serious complications due to UTI. Approximately 90% of pregnant women develop ureteral dilatation (hydronephrosis of pregnancy), which persists until delivery (Santos et al., 2002). Some 30% of patients with untreated asymptomatic bacteriuria develop symptomatic cystitis and up to 30–40% develop pyelonephritis (Barnick et al., 1991). Pyelonephritis in pregnancy has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality for mother and child (Blomberg et al., 2005a). Only a few (1%) women without bacteriuria develop symptomatic cystitis (Patterson & Audriole, 1987). Urinary tract infections have been attributed to cause preterm deliveries (Haram et al., 2003).

Escherichia coli has been found to be the commonest (80-90%) cause of UTI among pregnant women. Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Proteus species and gram positive bacteria account for the remaining cases (Millar et al., 1997; Gilstrap et al., 2001; Delzell et al., 2000). Among gram-positive isolates, Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Enterococcus are the commonest species. The susceptibility to antibiotics of these organisms can vary geographically and antibiotic therapy should be prescribed based upon established patterns of antimicrobial sensitivities in the specific institution (Jamie et al., 2002).

Routine screening of pregnant women for UTI has been associated with a decrease in associated complications (Millar et al 1997). Urine culture is the gold standard by which other screening tests are evaluated, but it is the most expensive and requires 24–48 hours for final interpretation (Eigbefoh et al 2008; Shelton et al 2001). Various alternatives have been proposed but each has its limitations. Microscopic evaluation of urine for pyuria, the presence of white blood cells, has a poor sensitivity of 22–29% (Shelton et al., 2001). Urine dipstick testing for nitrite or leukocyte esterase has variable sensitivities (50–92%) and specificities (83–97%)  (McNair, 2002).

The magnitude of UTI among pregnant women in Lake Victoria Zone of Tanzania is not known. The study was therefore, carried out to determine the prevalence of UTI among pregnant women attended at Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza and the susceptibility patterns of the common isolates.

Material and methods

Study area

This study was carried out in the Department of Obstetric and Gynaecology of the Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) in Mwanza, north-western Tanzania. BMC is a referral hospital in the Lake zone and serves 6 regions (Mwanza, Kagera, Shinyanga, Mara, Tabora and Kigoma). It has a bed capacity of 850 with 5,435 deliveries a year, 16 beds in antenatal ward, and an average number of 10 patients admitted in the ward daily. Antenatal clinic serves about 150 pregnant mothers in a month (htt://www.bugandomedicalcentre.go.tz)

Study population and sampling

The study population included pregnant women attending Bugando Medical Centre.  There was no gestational age limits.This was an analytical cross-sectional study conducted from July to October 2008.A formula of Kish & Lisle (1965) was used to calculate the sample size.n = z2 p (1-p) / d2 .Where: z = Z score for 95% confidence interval = 1.96, p = prevalence, d = tolerable error =5% .A proportion of 20% was used as p (Akinloye et al., 2006)

A serial sampling method was used; at least 5 pregnant women were recruited daily until the sample size was reached. A standardized questionnaire was filled for each patient to obtain socio-demographic information.

Urine collection and analysis

Mid stream urine were collected on the same day of enrolment using sterile container (HIMedia laboratories Pvt. Limited, Mumbai, India). Specimens were sent to the laboratory for analysis on the same day. Most of the specimens were analyzed within an hour of collection. Urinalysis using urine dipstick (Mannheim GmbH, Germany) was done following manufacturer’s instructions.

A 1µ and 10 µl were used to inoculate urine samples on CLED, MacConkey and Blood agar plates (OXOID-England). Plates were incubated for 24hr at 37oC.  A diagnosis of UTI was made when there were at least 105 colony forming unit (CFU)/ml of urine. High colony counts with more than one species of bacteria were considered as contaminations. For contaminated specimens, repeat culture was ordered. Identification was done using in-house biochemical testing (Murray et al., 1995).  Disc diffusion method was used to determine susceptibility of the isolates. Individual colonies were suspended in normal saline to 0.5 McFarland and using sterile swabs the suspensions were inoculated on Muller Hinton agar for 18-24hr. All procedures were done as recommended by Clinical Laboratory Standard Institute (CLSI).  For quality control, E. coli ATCC 25922 was used as control strains (CLSI, 2000).

For gram-negative bacteria the following discs were tested: Ampicillin (10µl), sulfamethazole-trimethoprim (SXT) (1.25/23.75µg), tetracycline (30µg), Nitrofurantoin (300mcg), Ceftriaxone (30µg), Gentamycin (10µg), Ciprofloxacin (5µl) and Imipenem (30µg). Penicillin (10 IU), Erythromycin (15µl), and Clindamycin (2µl) were used for gram-positive bacteria only. Symptomatic patients were given treatment empirically before culture results. All patients were asked to come back for results after 2 days.

Data analysis

Data were entered in the computer, using Epi-data and analyzed using SPSS 10.0. The Chi-square- test and Fisher exact tests were used to perform and establish any statistical difference. Univariate analysis was used to determine the association. Probability values of < 0.05 were considered as statistically significant.

Ethical considerations

This study was approved by BMC/Well Bugando University College of Health Sciences Ethics Review Board. An informed consent was obtained before collection of urine specimens and results were used in the management of patients. 

Results

Study population and prevalence of bacteriuria

A total of 247 pregnant women were recruited in this study. Of these 89.4% were 15-34 years old. The mean gestation age was 34.05±7.44 and 85% of the women were in the third trimester.  Among 247 pregnant women, 36 (14.6%) were found to have significant bacteriuria (Table 1). Prevalence of symptomatic and asymptomatic bacteriuria was 17.9% and 13%, respectively. High rate of bacteriuria was observed in the third trimester with 85.8% and 90.9% of symptomatic and asymptomatic bacteriuria, respectively. There was no association between maternal age, parity, gestational age, occupation, marital status and education with bacteriuria (Table 1). A total of 78 subjects reported urological symptoms including increased frequency of micturition (67.9%) and dysuria (64.1%); (Table 2).

Table 1: Prevalence of bacteriuria and demographic characteristic of study population (N=247)

Variables

Response

No. subjects

No. (%) Bacteriuria

95% CI1

P-value2

Maternal age

<15

2

0 (0)

--

 

 

15-24

112

24 (21.4)

13.83;29.03

 

 

25-34

109

11 (10.1)

4.44;15.74

0.211

 

35-44

23

1 (4.3)

-3.99;12.69

 

>45

1

0 (0)

--

Parity

0-1

88

15 (17.0)

9.19;24.91

 

 

2-3

101

16 (15.8)

8.72;22.96

0.825

 

>4

58

5 (8.6)

1.4;15.84

Gestation age

1st Trimester

8

1 (12.5)

-10.42; 35.42

 

 

2nd Trimester

29

3 (10.3)

-0.74;21.42

0.173

 

3rd Trimester

210

32(15.2)

10.38;20.1

Occupation

None

9

2(22.2)

-4.94;49.38

 

 

Housewife

128

19(14.8)

8.68;21.0

 

 

Employed

24

4(16.7)

1.76;31.58

--

 

Business

56

9(16.1)

6.45;25.69

 

Peasant

30

2(6.7)

-2.26;15.6

Marital status

Single

16

3(18.8)

-0.38;37.88

 

 

Married

223

32(14.3)

9.75;18.95

0.949

 

Separated

4

1(25.0)

-17.44; 67.44

 

 

Divorced/widowed

4

0(0)

--

Education

Illiterate

15

1(6.7)

-5.96;19.3

 

Primary

158

22(13.9)

8.52;19.3

0.615

 

Secondary

68

13(19.1)

9.77;28.47

 

Higher learning

6

0(0)

--

Total

247

36(14.6)

10.17; 18.97

1Confidence interval for proportion in percentages; 2 Univariate analysis

Bacterial isolates and their susceptibility

Thirty six urine samples had significant bacteriuria of single isolate. E. coli (42.7%) was the most predominant organism recovered. The rate of resistance to ampicillin, co-trimoxazole, ceftriaxone, gentamicin and nitrofurantoin among E. coli were 52.9%, 64%, 29.4% 5.9% and 5.9%, respectively (Table 3).  All E. coli isolates were sensitive to imipenem. Klebsiella pneumoniae accounted for 5.5% of isolates. Other Gram negative bacteria (Acinetobacter spp, Pseudomonas spp, Morganella spp, and Enterobacter spp)   contributed 16.7% of the isolates, and they were resistant to different antibiotics (Table 3).

Table 2: Common symptoms of urinary tract infections N=78

Symptoms

Number of subjects

% of subjects

Vomiting

19

24.4

Dysuria

50

64.1

Suprapubic pain

45

57.7

Fever

34

43.6

Flank pain

27

34.6

Chills

11

14.1

Frequency of micturition

53

67.9

Nausea

26

33.3

Enterococcus spp (22.2%) was the second common isolate. It was found to be resistant to co-trimoxazole in 75%, penicillin in 50 % and ampicillin in 12.5%. Staphylococcus aureus and Group B Streptococci were isolated in 5.6% and 2.8%, respectively.  They were all resistant to erythromycin.

Table 3: Rate of resistance to antibiotic among Gram negative bacteria

Bacteria

SXT

TE

CIP

AMP

CRO

NF

G

IMP

E. coli (N=17)

64.7

58.8

11.8

52.9

29.4

5.9

5.9

0

K. pneumoniae (N=2)

50.0

50.0

0

100.0

100.0

0

50.0

0

Other GNB (N=6)

66.7

83.3

50.0

66.7

50.0

50.0

16.6

16.6

Key: SXT=Co-trimoxazole; TE=Tetracycline, CIP=ciprofloxacin, AMP=Ampicillin, CRO=Ceftriaxone; NF=Nitrofurantoin; G=Gentamicin, IMP=Imipenem

Table 4: Rate of resistance to antibiotics among Gram positive bacteria

Bacteria

AMP

TE

CIP

ER

DA

NF

PEN

SXT

Enterococcus (N=8)

12.5

75.0

0

-

-

0

50.0

75.0

Other GPB (n=3)

33.3

33.3

33.3

100.0

33.3

33.3

33.3

100.0

Key: AMP=Ampicillin; TE=Tetracycline; CIP=ciprofloxacin; E=Erythromycin; DA=Clindamycin; NF=Nitrofurantoin; PEN=Penicillin,

Sensitivity and specificity of Urine dip stick

The prevalence of UTI among pregnant women by dipstick and culture was 17% and 14.5%, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of urine dipstick was 38.9 % and 86.7%, respectively. Positive predictive value and negative predictive value were 33.3% and 89.3%, respectively (Table 4). 

Table 5:  Sensitivity and specificity of rapid screening test using culture as gold standard

Culture

Rapid screening test

 

Positive (%)

Negative (%)

Total

Positive

14(33.3)

28(66.7)

42(100)

Negative

22(10.7)

183(89.3)

205(100)

Total

36(14.5)

211(85.5)

247(100)

Sensitivity = 38.9 %; Specificity = 86.7 %; Positive predictive value = 33.3 %; Negative predictive value = 89.3%; False positive = 66.7 %; False negative = 10.7 %

Discussion

The overall prevalence of bacteriuria among pregnant women in this study was 14.6 %. This is similar to the prevalence of UTI (16.4%) among pregnant women in northern Tanzania (Olsen et al., 2000). The prevalence of symptomatic and asymptomatic bacteriuria was observed to be 17.9% and 13%, respectively. A study in Enugu, Nigeria reported similar findings (Ezeome et al. 2006). However, the prevalence of asymptomatic bacteriuria observed in our study is significantly high compared to those reported in developed countries and this is likely to be attributed to low socio-economic status (Gilstrap et al., 2001, Santos et al., 2002; Sheikh et al., 2000).

Different factors have been documented to contribute to UTI among pregnant women. These include age, parity, gestation age, level of education (Gilstrap et al., 2001; Smaill et al., 2007; Santos et al., 2002; Dimetry et al., 2007).  In this study there was no significant association between these factors and bacteriuria. Similar findings have been reported elsewhere (Sheikh et al., 2000).

E. coli strains were the most common isolate. Similar findings have been reported in northern Tanzania (Blomberg et al., 2005a) and elsewhere (Millar et al., 1997; Gilstrap et al., 2001; Dalzell et al., 2000; Eigbefoh et al., 2008).  Most of the isolates were found to be sensitive to nitrofurantoin, ciprofloxacin and gentamicin. Similar observations have been reported by other workers (Blomberg et al., 2005a; Ezesh et al., 2003). Since ciprofloxacin is associated with foetal arthopathy it is not recommended in pregnancy (Briggs et al 2001). On the other hand, gentamicin is reserved for acute pyelonephritis (Macejko et al 2007).  Nitrofurantoin, therefore, remains drug of choice as it is safe to use in pregnancy. The drug is recommended for both asymptomatic and symptomatic bacteriuria (Briggs et al., 2001; Jamie et al., 2002).

In the present study among E. coli, 94% of isolates were sensitive to nitrofurantoin. In similar study in northern Tanzania, 96% of E. coli isolates were found to be sensitive to nitorfurantoin (Blomberg et al., 2005a). This drug can therefore, be used in our setting for the treatment of suspected UTI in pregnant women.  In this study most of Gram negative bacteria (GNB) were resistant to ampicillin with more that half of E. coli being resistant to this drug. E. coli resistance to ampicillin in a study in northern Tanzania was lower (17%) than in our study (Blomberg et al., 2005a). The use of this drug in the treatment of suspected GNB infection in our setting should not be recommended. Slightly over one-third of E. coli isolates were resistance to ceftriaxone, similar to what was observed at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam (Blomberg et al 2005b).

A significant difference between the two tests in determining bacteriuria among pregnant women was observed in this study. The sensitivity dipstick in our study was similar to findings by Tincello et al. (1995) but slightly lower than what was observed in a study in Nigeria (Eigbefoh et al 2008). The positive predictive value in this study was 33.3%; other studies have found it to vary from 16% to 62% (Shelton et al., 2001). Leucocyte esterase has a detection limit of 5–15 cells/ml of urine with the darkest colour block equivalent to 500 cells/ml. The presence of leucocyte esterase is indicative of pyuria. It may therefore, be unreliable in patients with low pyuria (Eigbefoh et al., 2008; Tincello et al., 1995). The dipstick test was found to have very high false positive which indicates that treatment based on the presence of leukocyte esterase would expose approximately 67% of the mothers and their foetuses to unnecessary antibiotics (Shelton et al., 2001; Olsen et al. 2000).

In conclusion, asymptomatic bacteriuria among pregnant women is prevalent in our setting and majority of E. coli are resistant to ampicillin, co-trimoxazole and ceftriaxone. The dipstick test has limited use in screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria because of its low sensitivity, compared with the urine culture. The study recommends the use of nitrofurantoin in managing asymptomatic bacteriuria and acute cystitis. Routine culture in the diagnosis of UTI among pregnant women at booking is important to prevent adverse outcome for the mother and child.

Acknowledgements

We thank member of staff of Department of Obstetric and Gynaecology for the support. We are grateful to Richard Ivo, Mary Louise Shushu, Sifael Msuya and Hezron Bassu for their excellent technical assistance.

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