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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Malaria journal
Title Low prevalence of laboratory-confirmed malaria in clinically diagnosed adult women from the Wakiso district of Uganda
Volume 15
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL https://malariajournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12936-016-1604-z
Background: The malaria burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has fallen substantially. Nevertheless, malaria remains a serious health concern, and Uganda ranks third in SSA in total malaria burden. Epidemiological studies of adult malaria in Uganda are scarce and little is known about rates of malaria in non-pregnant adult women. This pilot study assessed malaria prevalence among adult women from Wakiso district, historically a highly malaria endemic region.

Methods: Adult women using public health services were screened for malaria, HIV and pregnancy. A physician-selected subset of women presenting to the Outpatient Department of Entebbe General Hospital (EGH) with current fever (axillary temperature ≥37.5 °C) or self-reporting fever during the previous 24 h, and a positive thick smear for malaria in the EGH laboratory were enrolled (n = 86). Women who self-identified as pregnant or HIV-positive were excluded from screening. Malaria infection was then assessed using HRP2/pLDH rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) in all participants. Repeat microscopy and PCR were performed at a research laboratory for a subset of participants. In addition, 104 women without a history of fever were assessed for asymptomatic parasitaemia using RDT, and a subset of these women screened for parasitaemia using microscopy (40 women) and PCR (40 women).

Results: Of 86 women diagnosed with malaria by EGH, only two (2.3%) had malaria confirmed using RDT, subsequently identified as a Plasmodium falciparum infection by research microscopy and PCR. Subset analysis of hospital diagnosed RDT-negative participants detected one sub-microscopic infection with Plasmodium ovale. Compared to RDT, sensitivity, specificity and PPV of hospital microscopy were 100% (CI 19.8–100), 0% (CI 0–5.32) and 2.33% (CI 0.403–8.94) respectively. Compared to PCR, sensitivity, specificity and PPV of hospital microscopy were 100% (CI 31.0–100), 0% (CI 0–34.5) and 23.1% (CI 6.16–54.0), respectively. No malaria was detected among asymptomatic women using RDT, research microscopy or PCR.

Conclusions: Malaria prevalence among adult women appears to be low in Wakiso, but is masked by high rates of malaria overdiagnosis. More accurate malaria testing is urgently needed in public hospitals in this region to identify true causes of febrile illness and reduce unnecessary provision of anti-malarial therapy.

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