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Glob Pediatr Health


Presentation and Treatment Outcomes of Liberian Children Age 5 Years and Under Diagnosed With Severe Malaria.


Collins-Andrews B, McQuilkin P, Udhayashankar K, Adu E, Moormann A
Glob Pediatr Health. 2019; 6:2333794X19884818.
PMID: 31700947.


Malaria is endemic in Liberia with a prevalence rate of up to 60% in some regions, and it has been a major cause of death in children under 5 years of age. Prior to the recent Ebola epidemic, we undertook a prospective, hospital-based pilot study at the National Referral Hospital in Monrovia, to characterize the presentation, accuracy of diagnosis, and treatment outcomes of children presenting for treatment of malaria. From June 2013 to May 2014, we recruited children 5 years and under who presented to the JFK Medical Center with suspected malaria. We collected both clinical and laboratory data on admission and on discharge. We enrolled 477 patients with an average age of 1.6 years. Demographic factors associated with testing negative for malaria included regular bed net use and prior treatment for malaria. The most common presenting symptoms of severe malaria in this population were headache and seizures. Of 246 patients admitted and treated for severe malaria, 33% tested negative by rapid diagnostic test and blood smear for malaria. The case fatality rate was higher for the patients who tested negative for malaria (4.9%) versus those who tested positive (0.6%). Three children who tested negative for malaria showed evidence of undiagnosed infection. These results suggest that malaria may be overdiagnosed and that the diagnoses of other infectious diseases, which present in a similar fashion, may be neglected. These findings underscore the need to develop rapid diagnostic tests to screen for alternative causes of febrile illness.