Epidemiological features of severe paediatric malaria in north western Ethiopia.
Seboxa T., Snow RW.
Malaria remains a major public health challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, yet our knowledge of the epidemiology of malaria in terms of patterns of mortality and morbidity is limited. To examine the clinical and epidemiological presentation of severe life-threatening malaria in Humera, north western Ethiopia studies were conducted among the childhood population in the community, those presenting to out-patient facilities and those admitted to the district hospital. The overall P. falciparum parasite rate among children aged 0-9 years resident within the area was only 12% confirming the low level of endemicity in this area. P. vivax infections were present in 5% of children. Between July 1993 and June 1994 peak out-patient presentation with Plasmodium falciparum coincided with the rains with over 50% of cases occurring between August and October whilst P. vivax infections were predominant during the hot, dry months. Malaria was an important cause of paediatric admission to the local district hospital with an estimated 4.7% of the at-risk childhood community warranting intensive clinical management each year. Case fatality rates were high and the clinical spectrum of severe disease indicated a preponderance of cerebral malaria cases. In addition, respiratory distress was a feature in 12% of the malaria admissions. The suggestion that the coexistence of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax may serve to reduce the severe clinical consequences of P. falciparum malaria is not supported by these observations.