Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common bacterial infections in women. During pregnancy physiological changes, like frequency, mimic UTI symptoms and therefore bacteriological cultures are needed to confirm the diagnosis. However, in developing countries antibiotic therapy is commonly initiated without culture confirmation.
Methods: We have screened bacteriuria among pregnant women with and without UTI symptoms in a tertiary care teaching hospital. A total of 1000 urine samples were evaluated with nitrite and leukocyte esterase tests, using urine culture and/or dipslide with species identification as reference.
Results: The prevalence of culture-proven UTI among pregnant women with UTI symptoms was 4%. Since treatment is initiated based only on the presence of symptoms, 96% were erroneously given antibiotics. Further, there is a high prevalence of resistance to commonly used antibiotics, with 18% ESBL and 36% multidrug resistant Escherichia coli strains. With culture morphology and biochemical tests were mostly able to identify E. coli and negative cultures. Mixed Gram-negative flora, suggesting fecal contamination was, however, in the majority of cases interpreted as a single pathogenic bacterium and would have resulted in antibiotic treatment.
Conclusions: To prevent excessive use of antibiotics, dipslide possibly supported by a combination of nitrite and leukocyte esterase tests can be used. Trained frontline health care professionals correctly diagnosed E. coli UTI and negative urine cultures, which would help preventing antibiotic misuse. In addition, regular screening for antibiotic resistance would improve correct treatment.