Suspected malaria cases in Africa increasingly receive a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) before antimalarials are prescribed. While this ensures efficient use of resources to clear parasites, the underlying cause of the individual's fever remains unknown due to potential coinfection with a non-malarial febrile illness. Widespread use of RDTs does not necessarily prevent over-estimation of clinical malaria cases or sub-optimal case management of febrile patients. We present a new approach that allows inference of the spatiotemporal prevalence of both Plasmodium falciparum malaria-attributable and non-malarial fever in sub-Saharan African children from 2006-2014. We estimate that 35.7% of all self-reported fevers were accompanied by a malaria infection in 2014, but that only 28.0% of those (10.0% of all fevers) were causally attributable to malaria. Most fevers among malaria-positive children are therefore caused by non-malaria illnesses. This refined understanding can help improve interpretation of the burden of febrile illness and shape policy on fever case management.
- Ursula Dalrymple
- Ewan Cameron
- Samir Bhatt
- Daniel J Weiss
- Peter W Gething
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Mark Jit, Reviewing Editor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Public Health England, United Kingdom
© 2017, Dalrymple et al.
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