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BMC Infect Dis. 2011 Sep 29;11:256. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-11-256.

Prospective study on severe malaria among in-patients at Bombo regional hospital, Tanga, north-eastern Tanzania.

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National Institute for Medical Research, Tanga Medical Research Centre, P.O. Box 5004, Tanga, Tanzania.



In Tanzania, malaria is the major cause of morbidity and mortality, accounting for about 30% of all hospital admissions and around 15% of all hospital deaths. Severe anaemia and cerebral malaria are the two main causes of death due to malaria in Tanga, Tanzania.


This was a prospective observational hospital-based study conducted from October 2004 to September 2005. Consent was sought from study participants or guardians in the wards. Finger prick blood was collected from each individual for thick and thin smears, blood sugar levels and haemoglobin estimations by Haemocue machine after admission.


A total of 494 patients were clinically diagnosed and admitted as cases of severe malaria. Majority of them (55.3%) were children below the age of 5 years. Only 285 out of the total 494 (57.7%) patients had positive blood smears for malaria parasites. Adults aged 20 years and above had the highest rate of cases with fever and blood smear negative for malaria parasites. Commonest clinical manifestations of severe malaria were cerebral malaria (47.3%) and severe anaemia (14.6%), particularly in the under-fives. Case fatality was 3.2% and majority of the deaths occurred in the under-fives and adults aged 20 years and above with negative blood smears.


Proper laboratory diagnosis is crucial for case management and reliable data collection. The non-specific nature of malaria symptomatologies limits the use of clinical diagnosis and the IMCI strategy. Strengthening of laboratory investigations to guide case management is recommended.

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