Research

Clinical aspects and outcomes of patients with malaria at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital,Johannesburg, South Africa

D J Fox, A Karstaedt, C N Menezes

Abstract


Background. South Africa (SA) is currently experiencing a significant increase in malaria cases despite having shifted focus from malaria control towards malaria elimination. The clinical features of malaria are nonspecific, but their relative frequency on presentation are not well described. HIV and malaria are both independently associated with high mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. There are important interactions between HIV and malaria.

Objectives. To describe the population characteristics of patients with malaria at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, SA, clinical and biochemical features of severity, the proportion of patients with HIV infection, management and outcomes.

Methods. A prospective observational study was conducted whereby patients with a confirmed laboratory diagnosis of malaria were identified, approached and consented for study inclusion over the time period January 2017 - January 2018. Clinical and biochemical data were collected at the time of consent and later analysed.

Results. The mean (standard deviation) age was 35.7 (12.98) years, and 72 (70.6%) of the 102 patients were male. Peak admissions for malaria were in January, with 58 patients (56.9%) admitted during January 2017 and 2018. All malaria cases were imported, with 74.5% associated with travel to Mozambique. The majority of the patients (61.8%) were expatriates living in SA. The most common presenting symptoms were chills (95.1%), weakness (94.1%), fever (91.2%), headache (90.2%) and lethargy (88.2%). The most common clinical signs were dehydration (31.4%), prostration (19.6%) and jaundice (13.7%). Among the 40 patients (39.2%) who had severe malaria, prostration was the most common feature of severity (19.6%), 8 (7.8%) were admitted to an intensive care unit, and 6 (5.9%) required haemodialysis. The median (interquartile range) duration of hospital stay was 5 (3 -6) (range 2 - 35) days. HIV status was known in 83 patients (81.4%), of whom 32 (38.6%) were HIV-positive. Malaria prophylaxis had been taken by only 8 patients. The all-cause mortality rate was 4.9%, and mortality attributable to malaria 3.9%.

Conclusions. There was a high proportion of complicated malaria cases, particularly in January. The majority of patients were young expatriate males with a history of travel to southern Mozambique or Limpopo Province, with very few taking malaria prophylaxis. Most clinical signs and symptoms were constitutional and nonspecific. A large number of patients were found to be HIV-positive, and most were newly diagnosed. Mortality was high, at around five times the national average, and may have been an underestimate.


Authors' affiliations

D J Fox, Department of Internal Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

A Karstaedt, Department of Internal Medicine, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

C N Menezes, Department of Internal Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

Malaria; HIV; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(9):862-871.

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-09-02
Date published: 2021-09-02

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