Prevalence of malaria and social determinants of transmission among febrile patients attending Obioma Hospital, Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria
Malaria prevalence was studied among 400 patients that attended Obioma Hospital in Umuahia, Abia State, between the months of September and December, 2015. Venous blood samples were aseptically collected from the patients (mean age 28.5 SD 12.5). Thick and thin blood smears stained with field stains A and B were made on grease-free slides and examined microscopically for the presence of malaria parasites. Structured questionnaires were used to gather socio-demographic data and knowledge, attitude and practices of the respondents regarding malaria. Out of the 400 clinically suspected malaria patients examined, 161 (40.3%) were infected with Plasmodium. More males (45.2%) than females (37.0%) were infected though the differences were not statistically significant (p>0.05). The age-group 6-15 years had the highest prevalence. Occupation wise, traders were more infected (56.4%) and the differences were not statistically significant (p>0.05). The prevalence of malaria parasites infection though highest in respondents with informal education (68.3%) was not significantly higher than in other groups (p>0.05). Some of the respondents (57.3%) identified mosquito bites as the cause of malaria though a few still had wrong perceptions of the cause. Many of the respondents showed adequate knowledge of the symptoms and signs. Fever (53.0%), headache (58.0%), body pains (27.8%), and bitter taste (29.3%) were some of the symptoms reported. Some respondents had knowledge of microscopy (55.8%) and some Rapid Diagnostic Tests (47.3%) as diagnostic methods for malaria. For the chemotherapy and preventive measures (52.0%), reported the use of oral drugs (35.3%), use of injection, (19%) the use of insecticides treated mosquito nets and (2.3%) the use of herbal preparation. This study has shown that clinical diagnosis alone cannot be relied upon for accurate diagnosis of malaria in endemic areas. Verifying the clinical signs and symptoms of malaria with laboratory tests before commencing treatment is highly advocated.
Keywords: Malaria prevalence; clinically suspected malaria patients; knowledge; attitude; practices