Studies on asymptomatic malaria, prevention and treatment seeking behaviours in Abeokuta, south-west Nigeria
Recurrent cycles of fevers and chills are obvious symptoms for malaria disease usually necessitating treatment. However, some Plasmodium infections could be without symptoms, leading to late diagnosis and delayed treatment- seeking behaviours. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of asymptomatic malaria infections, and document associated prevention and treatment-seeking behaviours among literates in Abeokuta. A cross-sectional study design involving 309 attendees at the 2016 World Malaria Day Celebration event held at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta was conducted. Finger-prick blood samples were collected for Plasmodium parasite detection by malaria rapid diagnostic test (mRDT) and anthropometric indices such as weight, height and age were also collected to estimate Body-Mass-Index. An already pre-tested questionnaire was also used to collect information on malaria prevention and treatment-seeking behaviours. Data were analysed in SPSS 20.0 software. Results revealed that the prevalence of asymptomatic malaria was 7.4% (23/309), with no significant association between sex, febrile illness and Body Mass Index (p>0.05). Participants aged 15-25 years were more infected with malaria than other age groups. Only 58.3% of the participants have heard of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) and about 78% do not have mosquito bed-net. Self-diagnosis for the disease was more common (60.8%) among the participants, compared to other measures; seeking laboratory test (26.5%) and clinical diagnosis (9.1%). A good proportion of the participants (73.1%) rely on Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) drugs for treating malaria, although few others still rely on non-ACT drugs (17.8%), chloroquine (1.9%) and herbs (1.6%). Findings show existence of asymptomatic malaria. Also, access to and utilization of malaria prevention and control commodities is poor among the literates. There is thus a need to intensify efforts in addressing these concerns as we move towards eliminating the disease.
Keywords: Asymptomatic malaria; World Malaria Day; prevalence; Abeokuta; Nigeria