In malaria endemic areas, fever has been used as an entry point for presumptive treatment of malaria. At present, the decrease in malaria transmission in Africa implies an increase in febrile illnesses related to other causes among underfives. Moreover, it is estimated that more than half of the children presenting with fever to public clinics in Africa do not have a malaria infection. Thus, for a better management of all febrile illnesses among under-fives, it becomes relevant to understand the underlying aetiology of the illness. The present study was conducted to determine the relative prevalence and predictors of P. falciparum malaria, urinary tract infections and bacteremia among under-fives presenting with a febrile illness at the Makongoro Primary Health Centre, North-Western Tanzania.
From February to June 2011, a cross-sectional analytical survey was conducted among febrile children less than five years of age. Demographic and clinical data were collected using a standardized pre-tested questionnaire. Blood and urine culture was done, followed by the identification of isolates using in-house biochemical methods. Susceptibility patterns to commonly used antibiotics were investigated using the disc diffusion method. Giemsa stained thin and thick blood smears were examined for any malaria parasites stages.
A total of 231 febrile under-fives were enrolled in the study. Of all the children, 20.3% (47/231, 95%CI, 15.10-25.48), 9.5% (22/231, 95%CI, 5.72-13.28) and 7.4% (17/231, 95%CI, 4.00-10.8) had urinary tract infections, P. falciparum malaria and bacteremia respectively. In general, 11.5% (10/87, 95%CI, 8.10-14.90) of the children had two infections and only one child had all three infections. Predictors of urinary tract infections (UTI) were dysuria (OR = 12.51, 95% CI, 4.28-36.57, P < 0.001) and body temperature (40-41 C) (OR = 12.54, 95% CI, 4.28-36.73, P < 0.001). Predictors of P. falciparum severe malaria were pallor (OR = 4.66 95%CI, 1.21-17.8, P = 0.025) and convulsion (OR = 102, 95% CI, 10-996, P = 0.001). Escherichia coli were the common gram negative isolates from urine (72.3%, 95% CI, 66.50-78.10) and blood (40%, 95%CI, and 33.70-46.30). Escherichia coli from urine were 100% resistant to ampicillin, 97% resistant to co-trimoxazole, 85% resistant to augmentin and 32.4% resistant to gentamicin; and they were 100%, 91.2% and 73.5% sensitive to meropenem, ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone respectively.
Urinary tract infection caused by multi drug resistant Escherichia coli was the common cause of febrile illness in our setting. Improvement of malaria diagnosis and its differential diagnosis from other causes of febrile illnesses may provide effective management of febrile illnesses among children in Tanzania