In Senegal, malaria morbidity has sharply decreased over these past years. However, malaria epidemiology remains heterogeneous with persistent transmission in the southeastern part of the country and many cases among older children and adolescents. Little is known about factors associated with clinical malaria among this group. A better understanding of malaria transmission among this newly emerging vulnerable group will guide future interventions targeting this population group. This study aimed to identify factors associated with clinical malaria among adolescents in Senegal.
A case–control study was conducted from November to December 2020 in four health posts located in the Saraya district. Cases were defined as adolescents (10–19 years) with an uncomplicated malaria episode with fever (temperature > 37.5°) or a history of fever and positive malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT). Controls were from the same age group, living in the neighbourhood of the case, presenting a negative RDT. A standardized, pre-tested questionnaire was administered to each study participant followed by a home visit to assess the participant's living conditions. Factors associated with clinical malaria were assessed using stepwise logistic regression analysis.
In total, 492 individuals were recruited (246 cases and 246 controls). In a multivariate analysis, factors associated with clinical malaria included non-use of long-lasting insecticidal net (LLIN) (aOR = 2.65; 95% CI 1.58–4.45), non-use of other preventive measures (aOR = 2.51; 95% CI 1.53–4.11) and indoor sleeping (aOR = 3.22; 95% CI 1.66–6.23). Protective factors included 15–19 years of age (aOR = 0.38; 95% CI 0.23–0.62), absence of stagnant water around the house (aOR = 0.27; 95% CI 0.16–0.44), having a female as head of household (aOR = 0.47; 95% CI 0.25–0.90), occupation such as apprentice (OR = 0.24; 95% CI 0.11–0.52).
The study revealed that environmental factors and non-use of malaria preventive measures are the main determinants of malaria transmission among adolescents living in areas with persistent malaria transmission in Senegal. Strategies aimed at improving disease awareness and access to healthcare interventions, such as LLINs, are needed to improve malaria control and prevention among these vulnerable groups.