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      Severe falciparum malaria in Gabonese children: clinical and laboratory features

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          Malaria continues to claim one to two million lives a year, mainly those of children in sub-Saharan Africa. Reduction in mortality depends, in part, on improving the quality of hospital care, the training of healthcare workers and improvements in public health. This study examined the prognostic indicators of severe falciparum malaria in Gabonese children.


          An observational study examining the clinical presentations and laboratory features of severe malaria was conducted at the Centre Hospitalier de Libreville, Gabon over two years. Febrile children aged from 0 to 10 years with Plasmodium falciparum infection and one or more features of severe malaria were enrolled.


          Most children presenting with severe falciparum malaria were less than 5 years (92.3% of 583 cases). Anaemia was the most frequent feature of severe malaria (67.8% of cases), followed by respiratory distress (31%), cerebral malaria (24%) hyperlactataemia (16%) and then hypoglycaemia (10%). Anaemia was more common in children under 18 months old, while cerebral malaria usually occurred in those over 18 months. The overall case fatality rate was 9%. The prognostic indicators with the highest case fatality rates were coma/seizures, hyperlactataemia and hypoglycaemia, and the highest case fatality rate was in children with all three of these features.


          Prompt and appropriate, classification and treatment of malaria helps identify the most severely ill children and aids early and appropriate management of the severely ill child.

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          Most cited references 36

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          Mortality and morbidity from malaria among children in a rural area of The Gambia, West Africa.

          Mortality and morbidity from malaria were measured among 3000 children under the age of 7 years in a rural area of The Gambia, West Africa. Using a post-mortem questionnaire technique, malaria was identified as the probable cause of 4% of infant deaths and of 25% of deaths in children aged 1 to 4 years. The malaria mortality rate was 6.3 per 1000 per year in infants and 10.7 per 1000 per year in children aged 1 to 4 years. Morbidity surveys suggested that children under the age of 7 years experienced about one clinical episode of malaria per year. Calculation of attributable fractions showed that malaria may be responsible for about 40% of episodes of fever in children. Although the overall level of parasitaemia showed little seasonal variation, the clinical impact of malaria was highly seasonal; all malaria deaths and a high proportion of febrile episodes were recorded during a limited period at the end of the rainy season.
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            The ears of the hippopotamus: manifestations, determinants, and estimates of the malaria burden.

             J Breman (2015)
            Malarious patients experience asymptomatic parasitemia; acute febrile illness (with cerebral damage, anemia, respiratory distress, hypoglycemia); chronic debilitation (anemia, malnutrition, nervous system-related sequelae); and complications of pregnancy (anemia, low birth weight, increased infant mortality). These manifestations in patients, communities, and countries reflect intrinsic (human, parasite, mosquito) and extrinsic (environmental, social, behavioral, political, and economic conditions as well as disease-control efforts) determinants. At a minimum, between 700,000 and 2.7 million persons die yearly from malaria, over 75% of them African children. Between 400 and 900 million acute febrile episodes occur yearly in African children under 5 yr of age living in endemic areas. Although about half of these children are parasitemic, all merit consideration of malaria-specific therapy, which is becoming more problematic because of parasite resistance to drugs. These numbers will more than double over the next 20 yr without effective control. Fewer than 20% of these febrile episodes and deaths come to the attention of any formal health system. The relatively few ill patients who have any contact with the health services represent the "ears of the hippopotamus." Greatly intensified research activities and control of the intolerable burden of malaria are mandatory if economic development is to accelerate in Africa. In particular, support should be targeted to understanding and preventing malaria-induced anemia, hypoglycemia, effects on pregnancy, and neurologic and developmental impairment. To decrease and stop transmission of this intolerable scourge, there is an urgent need for malaria vaccines, newer drugs, and better vector control methods as well as the ability to improve current technologies and use them more efficiently.
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              Comparison of methods for the rapid laboratory assessment of children with malaria.

              Rapid diagnosis and accurate quantification of Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia are important for the management of malaria. The assessment of disease severity also depends on evaluation of metabolic indexes such as blood glucose and lactate concentrations. Here we describe an accurate and rapid alternative to conventional thick film examination (Lambaréné method). We also assess near-patient methods for measuring blood glucose (OneTouch) and lactate (Accusport). The accuracy of the Lambaréné method is similar to that of thin films. Results from the OneTouch glucose meter also are in good agreement with a YSI 2300 reference meter. Overall, the Accusport lactate meter agrees poorly with the YSI 2300 reference meter. However, the sensitivity and specificity to detect hyperlactatemia (blood lactate > or = 5 mmol/L) are 0.94 and 0.98, respectively.

                Author and article information

                Malar J
                Malaria Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                9 January 2005
                : 4
                : 1
                [1 ]Department of Parasitology, Mycology and Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Health Sciences (USS), Libreville, Gabon
                [2 ]Department of Paediatrics, Centre Hospitalier de Libreville (CHL), Gabon
                [3 ]Malaria Clinical Research Unit, CHL, Gabon
                [4 ]Department of Infectious Diseases, St. George's Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, London, UK
                [5 ]Department of Intensive Care-Emergency, CHL, Gabon
                [6 ]Department of Parasitology, Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen, Germany
                [7 ]Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, USS, Libreville, Gabon
                Copyright © 2005 Ella et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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