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Confirmed malaria cases among children under five with fever and history of fever in rural western Tanzania.
BMC Research Notes. 2011 Sep 13; 4(1):359-364.Background: The World Health Organization recommends that malaria treatment should begin with parasitological diagnosis. This will help to control misuse of anti-malarial drugs in areas with low transmission. The present study was conducted to assess the prevalence of parasitologically confirmed malaria among children under five years of age presenting with fever or history of fever in rural western Tanzania. A finger prick blood sample was obtained from each child, and thin and thick blood smears were prepared, stained with 10% Giemsa and examined under the light microscope. A structured questionnaire was used to collect each patient's demographic information, reasons for coming to the health center; and a physical examination was carried out on all patients. Fever was defined as axillary temperature = 37.5°C. Findings: A total of 300 children with fever or a history of fever (1 or 2 weeks) were recruited, in which 54.3% (163/300, 95%CI, 48.7-59.9) were boys. A total of 76 (76/300, 25.3%, 95%CI, 22.8 - 27.8) of the children had fever. Based on a parasitological diagnosis of malaria, only 12% (36/300, 95%CI, 8.3-15.7) of the children had P. falciparum infection. Of the children with P. falciparum infection, 52.7% (19/36, 95%CI, 47.1-58.3) had fever and the remaining had no fever. The geometrical mean of the parasites was 708.62 (95%CI, 477.96-1050.62) parasites/µl and 25% (9/36, 95%CI, 10.9 -39.1) of the children with positive P. falciparum had = 1001 parasites/µl. On Univariate (OR = 2.13, 95%CI, 1.02-4.43, P = 0.044) and multivariate (OR = 2.15, 95%CI, 1.03-4.49) analysis, only children above one year of age were associated with malaria infections. Conclusion: Only a small proportion of the children under the age of five with fever had malaria, and with a proportion of children having non-malaria fever. Improvement of malaria diagnostic and other causes of febrile illness may provide effective measure in management of febrile illness in malaria endemic areas.