The symptoms of severe malaria and their contribution to mortality were assessed in 290 children in northern Ghana. Common symptoms were severe anemia (55%), prostration (33%), respiratory distress (23%), convulsions (20%), and impaired consciousness (19%). Age influenced this pattern. The fatality rate was 11.2%. In multivariate analysis, circulatory collapse, impaired consciousness, hypoglycemia, and malnutrition independently predicted death. Children with severe malaria by the current World Health Organization (WHO) classification, but not by the previous one (1990), showed relatively mild clinical manifestations and a low case fatality rate (3.2%). In hospitalized children with severe malaria in northern Ghana, severe anemia is the leading manifestation, but itself does not contribute to mortality. In this region, malnutrition and circulatory collapse were important predictors of fatal malaria. The current WHO criteria serve well in identifying life-threatening disease, but also include rather mild cases that may complicate the allocation of immediate care in settings with limited resources.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases