Re-thinking treatment strategies for febrile neutropenia in paediatric oncology population: the perspective from a developing country

Vinson James, Anand Prakash, Kayur Mehta, Tarangini Durugappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study was conducted to evaluate the microbiological profile of bacterial isolates in febrile neutropenia in a pediatric oncology unit, thereby, reviewing the use of restricted antibiotics and need for aggressive medical treatment accordingly. Methods: A prospective observational study was conducted in a paediatric haemat-oncology division of a tertiary care teaching hospital in southern India from September 2014 to August 2016. One hundred and thirty children with febrile neutropenia were enrolled in the study. Blood cultures were performed using automated system. Cultures from other sites were obtained if needed, based on the clinical profile. Standard antibiotic susceptibility testing was done. Statistical analysis was done using SPSS. Results: One hundred and thirty children were enrolled for the study. Two hundred and fifty episodes of febrile neutropenia were studied. Three hundred and eighty four cultures were sent and 92 (24%) cultures were positive. There were 48 (52.2%) Gram negative isolates followed by 33 (35.8%) Gram positive isolates, six (6.5%) fungal isolates and five (5.5%) poly-microbial cultures. Lactose fermenting Gram negative bacilli (20 isolates, 31.5%) were the most frequently isolated in the Gram negative group, with Escherichia coli being the most common organism (19 isolates, 20.6%). Amongst the Gram positive coagulase negative staphylococcus was the most common (twenty seven isolates, 29%). Escherichia coli and Non lactose fermenting gram negative bacteria (NFGNB) had only 36, 25% sensitivity to ceftazidime, respectively. Most Gram negative bacilli were found to have better sensitivity to amikacin (mean: 57%). There was a higher prevalence of extended spectrum beta lactamase producing organisms. Pan drug resistance, Extreme drug resistance and Multi drug resistance was found in three, twenty and thirteen Gram negative isolates respectively.Escherichia coli and Klebsiella were often drug resistant. Significantly higher mortality was associated with Gram negative isolates (eight deaths out of the thirteen deaths, 61.5%). Conclusions: Our results show the importance of surveillance, monitoring resistance frequencies and identifying risk factors specific to each region. Given that significant mortality is attributed to drug resistant Gram negative bacilli, early initiation of appropriate antibiotics to cover for drug resistance is required while formulating empirical antibiotic policies for febrile neutropenia in the oncology units in the developing world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number44
JournalInfectious Agents and Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Febrile neutropenia
  • Microbiological profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research
  • Epidemiology


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