Background: Infective corneal ulceration is at present the leading cause of ocular morbidity and unilateral
blindness in developing countries and the most common cause of acute blinding corneal problem
requiring treatment. For the past 10 years, it has been the leading cause of admission at Muhimbili
National Hospital. Proper microbial diagnosis and management of infective corneal ulceration requires
culture and sensitivity tests that may not be available in some secondary and tertiary facilities in Tanzania.
Knowledge of local microbial aetiology is therefore necessary for early and effective management to
avoid long term corneal complications and subsequent blindness. The aim of the study was to
determine the common local causative organisms of infective corneal ulceration.
Objective: To identify causative pathogens responsible for infective corneal ulceration at Muhimbili
National Hospital. And to determine the demographic factors of the study population.
Design: Cross sectional study conducted from June 2007 to June 2008.
Setting: Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar-es-Salaam.
Participants: Two hundred and two patients of all age groups with corneal ulceration.
Results: Fourty point one percent of ulcers were bacterial, 36.6.0% were fungal and 14.4% viral. Staphylococcal
species were the commonest bacteria isolated on culture while candida albicans was the
commonest causative fungus. The aetiology of 18 (8.9%) corneal ulcers could not be determined.
Conclusion: Although bacteria are the leading cause of corneal ulceration, the proportion of fungus
as a cause of corneal ulceration has increased to almost equal that of bacteria. Staphylococcal spp,
streptococcal spp and candida albicans were the leading causative organisms. Treatment based on clinical
grounds should target these organisms.
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