Etiology of Sepsis in Uganda Using a Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction-based TaqMan Array Card

Christopher C. Moore, Shevin T. Jacob, Patrick Banura, Jixian Zhang, Suzanne Stroup, David R. Boulware, W. Michael Scheld, Eric R. Houpt, Jie Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background. Knowledge of causes of sepsis in sub-Saharan Africa is limited. A better understanding of the microbiology of bloodstream infections could improve outcomes. Methods. We used a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)-based TaqMan Array Card (TAC) to directly test for 43 targets from whole blood. We analyzed 336 cryopreserved specimens from adult Ugandans with sepsis enrolled in a multisite study; 84% were infected with human immunodeficiency virus. We compared qPCR TAC results with blood culture and determined the association of qPCR with study participant outcomes using logistic regression. Results. The most frequently detected targets were cytomegalovirus (CMV, n = 139, 41%), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB, n = 70, 21%), Plasmodium (n = 35, 10%), and Streptococcus pneumoniae (n = 31, 9%). Diagnostic performance varied by target with qPCR sensitivity averaging 61 ± 28% and specificity 98 ± 3% versus culture. In multivariable analysis, independent factors associated with in-hospital mortality included CMV viremia (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.2, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-5.5; p < .01) and TB qPCR-positivity, whether blood culture-positive (aOR 4.6, 95% CI, 2.1-10.0; p < .01) or blood culture-negative (aOR 2.9, 95% CI, 1.2-6.9; p = .02). Conclusions. Using qPCR TAC on direct blood specimens, CMV and TB were the most commonly identified targets and were independently associated with increased in-hospital mortality. qPCR TAC screening of blood for multiple targets may be useful to guide triage and treatment of sepsis in sub-Saharan Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-272
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 7 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support. This work was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (K24AI102972 and U01AI115594 to E. R. H.).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.


  • Africa
  • Mortality
  • PCR
  • Sepsis
  • Uganda

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