BACKGROUND: Urban malaria has received insufficient attention in the literature. The prevalence and clinical characteristics of Plasmodium falciparum infection amongst patients presenting with suspected malaria were investigated at a major urban hospital in Douala, Cameroon with a particular focus on anaemia.
METHODS: A cross-sectional, 18-week demographic and clinical survey was conducted of patients presenting to the Emergency Department of Douala Military Hospital with suspected malaria, largely defined by the presence or recent history of fever. Venous samples were tested for P. falciparum using rapid diagnostic tests and PCR, and anaemia was defined by haemoglobin level according to WHO definitions. Likelihood ratios (LR), odds ratios (OR), and population attributable risk percent (PARP) were calculated.
RESULTS: Participants were ages 8 months to 86 years, 51% were women (257/503), and all districts of Douala were represented. Overall, 38.0% (n = 189/497) were anaemic, including 5.2% (n = 26/497) with severe anaemia. Anaemia prevalence was significantly higher (OR: 2.20, 95% CI 1.41-3.45) among children 40 °C at presentation (positive LR: 4.83). Among all participants, 8.7% of anaemia was associated with P. falciparum infection, while the PARP was 33.2% among those
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of P. falciparum infection in the urban hospital was high. Mirroring trends in many rural African settings, older children had the highest positivity rate for P. falciparum infection. Anaemia was also common in all age groups, and for those 10-14 years of age, 80% of the risk for anaemia was associated with P. falciparum infection. Malaria rates in major urban population centres can be high, and more research into the multifactorial causes of anaemia across the age spectrum are needed.
© 2022. The Author(s).