To the Editor: Globally, an estimated 170 million people (about 3% of the world's population) have been infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV, a member of the Hepacivirus genus in the Flaviviridae family, possesses a single stranded, positive-sense RNA genome of approximately 9.6 kilobase (kb), and is the major cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. In Africa, HCV prevalence ranges from <3% in South Africa to <20% in Egypt. In South Africa, there is a low prevalence from 0.16% to 1.8%, but this is higher in high-risk individuals, e.g. 39.4% in haemophiliacs and 4.8% in chronic dialysis patients.
Priority-setting in the health system is necessary because resources are constrained. The role of cost-effectiveness analysis in supporting decision-making around health care priorities in South Africa is explored by referring to South African studies that have provided clinical and policy guidance at the levels of the patient, the service and the population. Cost-effectiveness evidence is positioned in relation to other concerns such as equity and the overall performance of the health system.
Objectives. To describe the frequencies, presenting characteristics (demographic, clinical and biochemical) and outcomes (duration of admission and mortality rates) for various types of hyperglycaemic crisis.
Methods. Retrospective review of medical records of patients with hyperglycaemic crisis admitted to Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, Mthatha, E Cape, from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2009. Outcome measures were duration of admission and mortality.
Results. Data were available for 269 admissions (response rate 81.0%), 169 females and 100 males. Admissions for hyperglycaemia (HG, N=119), and non-hyperosmolar diabetic ketoacidosis (NHDKA, N=97) were more frequent than those for hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state (HHS, N=29) and hyperosmolar diabetic ketoacidosis (HDKA, N=24). Duration of admission was similar in all groups. Mortality was high in all groups, but was higher in patients with HDKA (37.5%, risk ratio (RR) 3.88, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.41 - 10.67, p=0.009), HHS (31.0%, RR 2.91, 95% CI 1.09 - 7.75, p=0.033) and HG (19.5%, RR 1.56, 95% CI 0.75 - 3.21, p=0.236) than in those with NHDKA (13.4%). HDKA (62.5%) was associated with new-onset diabetes more often than NHDKA (27.8%), HHS (44.8%) or HG (17.6%) (p<0.0001). An altered level of consciousness was more frequent in HDKA than NHDKA admissions (RR 5.71, 95% CI 1.90 - 17.17, p=0.002).
Conclusions. Duration of hospital stay was similar across groups. Mortality rates were high in all groups. New-onset diabetes, altered level of consciousness and mortality were more characteristically associated with HDKA than any of the other types of hyperglycaemic crisis. Optimal glycaemic control in known diabetic patients will reduce rates of hyperglycaemic crisis admissions.
Objective. To examine the uptake of ART among pregnant women referred to an ART service and the associated rates and risk factors for vertical HIV transmission.
Method. Retrospective analysis of an observational cohort at a community ART clinic in Cape Town.
Results. Between 2002 and 2008, 367 treatment-naïve pregnant women accessed the clinic. The median age was 27.5 years, and median gestation at presentation was 28 weeks. The median baseline CD4 count and viral load were 134 cells/µl and 28 282 copies/ml. Two hundred and sixty-five women (72%) commenced ART before giving birth, 73 women (20%) were referred for prevention of mother-to-child transmission therapy (PMTCT), and 29 (8%) received no intervention. Among ART-eligible women, 13% were lost to follow-up. Of those starting ART, median duration of therapy prior to birth was 7.6 weeks (interquartile range (IQR) 4 - 11.9).The HIV transmission rate was 5.1% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.8 - 9.0%). Factors associated with transmission were advanced maternal WHO disease stage (odds ratio (OR) 9.57, p=0.02), and follow-up viral load above 50 copies/ml (OR 3.64, p=0.03). Each additional week on ART reduced transmission by 20% (p=0.05). There was no HIV transmission among women who received more than 8 weeks' therapy.
Conclusions. The rate of HIV transmission in this study was higher than reported in high-income countries. Prevention of vertical transmission with ART was hindered by women presenting late in pregnancy and with advanced stage of HIV disease. Interventions that facilitate earlier ART commencement and improve programmatic retention of pregnant women are required.
Objective. To investigate the association between preconception and prenatal alcohol use and abruptio placentae.
Methods. A case-control study of women with the clinical diagnosis of abruptio placentae, 65 cases and 66 controls, at Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa. Women in whom a retroplacental blood clot, covering at least 15% of the placental surface, was found at delivery at 24 weeks' gestation or later were asked to complete a timeline follow-back questionnaire to determine their alcohol intake 12 and 3 months before and during pregnancy. The same questionnaire was administered to a control group of high-risk women who had no antepartum haemorrhage.
Outcome. Women who drank alcohol 12 months before conception were more than 4 times more likely to develop abruptio placentae than the control group (odds ratio (OR) 4.49, p=0.00009). Women who drank alcohol 3 months prior to conception were 3 times more likely to develop abruptio placentae than the control group (OR 3.06, p=0.003). Drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy carried a more than 3 times greater risk of developing abruptio placentae (OR 3.52, p=0.0006). In the study group, women consumed a mean of 13.6, 12.0 and 11.2 standard drinks in a typical week at 12 and 3 months before and during pregnancy, respectively. The study group demonstrated a binge-drinking pattern, with two to four sessions per month.
Conclusion. An association was found between preconception and prenatal consumption of alcohol and abruptio placentae.
Objective. A bloodstream infection (BSI) is a life-threatening condition. We studied the causative agents of BSIs and antimicrobial susceptibility patterns of bacterial isolates at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Methods. A retrospective analysis of blood culture results obtained at MNH from January 2005 to December 2009 was done. Blood culture isolates judged to be clinically significant and antimicrobial susceptibility results of the bacteria were included. The frequencies and proportions of bacteria isolated and antimicrobial susceptibility results were analysed and compared using Pearson's chi-square test and Fisher's exact test where applicable, or the Mann-Whitney U-test.
Results. A total of 13 833 blood cultures were performed. Bacterial pathogens were detected in 1 855 (13.4%), Gram-positive bacteria (1 523; 82.1%) being significantly more prevalent than Gramnegative bacteria (332; 17.9%) (p=0.008). The most common bacterial pathogens isolated were coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) (1 250; 67.4%), S. aureus (245; 13.2%), Escherichia coli (131; 7%) and Klebsiella spp. (130; 7.0%). All bacteria isolated showed high resistance to penicillin G (70.6%), tetracycline (63.8%), cefotaxime (62.5%) and ampicillin (62.3%). Moderate to high resistance was seen against chloramphenicol (45.2%), erythromycin (35.0%), ciprofloxacin (29.3%), co-trimoxazole (25.0%) and gentamicin (23.5%). Of S. aureus isolates, 23.3% were resistant to methicillin.
Conclusions. CoNS accounted for two-thirds of the bacterial pathogens isolated. High-level resistance was seen to first-line and inexpensive antimicrobial agents. Routine screening for extendedspectrum beta-lactamase production and methicillin resistance among Gram-negative rods and S. aureus from blood cultures should be instituted to monitor spread of multidrug-resistant isolates.
The incidence of sepsis is increasing globally, with high morbidity and mortality. Prompt, accurate detection of bacteraemia and fungaemia is imperative for improving patient care, yet health care professionals lack training in correct blood culture techniques. These guidelines discuss the clinical importance of blood cultures, the indications for their use and the correct technique for optimal yield of pathogenic micro-organisms that cause sepsis.
Background. Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is defined as a continuing inflammatory disease of the pancreas characterised by irreversible morphological changes, often associated with pain and with the loss of exocrine and/or endocrine function that may be clinically relevant. Alcohol is the predominant cause of CP in the western world and is particularly prevalent in South Africa, especially in the indigent patient. CP ranks high among intractable diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The tendency for substance abuse in the alcohol-induced group poses major psychological and socioeconomic problems.
Objective. CP is a disease with significant clinical and pathological heterogeneity. Level 1 evidence to support definitive guidelines for diagnosis, medical management and interventional therapy is lacking. Despite this paucity of robust scientific evidence, it is important to provide some assistance based on the best available evidence as to the current standard of care for CP in the South African context; this will aid all involved in the management of the disease, and includes clinicians, health care managers and funders. Scope. The guidelines were developed as recommendations addressing the diagnosis, medical management and interventions, both endoscopic and surgical, for the management of a very complex and heterogeneous disease of the pancreas. The recommendations are particularly relevant in the South African context where the predominant patho-aetiological agents are alcohol-associated with smoking.
Recommendations. The guidelines provide clear recommendations regarding the diagnostic modalities available, both imaging (which includes MRI and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)) and pancreatic function tests. The section on medical management makes recommendations on the use of analgesics, enzyme replacement and other therapeutic options in the non-interventional management of the majority of patients with CP. The section on interventional procedures identifies the indications and options available for the interventional management of both uncomplicated and complicated CP. The role of endoscopic and surgical modalities is defined, but it is in this context especially that the best available evidence, combined with the experience of the group, influenced the recommendations put forward. Owing to the lack of evidence and the complexity of the disease, it is recommended that, where possible, CP is managed in the context of a multidisciplinary team.
Validation. The guidelines are based on best practice principles determined by the available evidence and the opinions of the group, which comprised 7 medical and surgical gastroenterologists with significant experience in dealing with patients with chronic pancreatitis in the South African context. The group convened between May 2009 and August 2010 under the auspices of the Hepato-Pancreatico-Biliary Association of South Africa (HPBASA) and the South African Gastroenterology Society (SAGES), and the guidelines are the result of broad consensus within this group. The draft was presented to other experts in this field of endeavour to ensure broader participation and consensus.
Plans for guideline revision. HPBASA and SAGES will publish a revised modification of the recommendations when new levels 1 and 2 evidence data are published.