TitlePredictors of Severity of Illness on Presentation in Children with Cerebral Malaria
AuthorsMabeza G. F., Moyo V. M., Thuma P. E., Biemba G., Parry D., Khumalo H., Nyarugwe P., Zulu S., Gordeuk V. R.
PublicationAnn Trop Med Parasitol. 1995 Jun; 89(3):221-8.
AbstractThe presenting features of 195 children with cerebral malaria were analysed to determine which correlated with severity of coma and anaemia. The children, who came from a single community in southern Zambia, were enrolled in an ongoing blinded drug trial in 1992 and 1993. Children with deep coma (scoring 0-2) had significantly longer duration of coma before presentation (P = 0.019) and were more likely to have been treated with chloroquine (P = 0.022) than children with light coma (scoring 3 or 4 on the Blantyre coma scale). Children with severe anaemia (haematocrit < 18%) were younger (P = 0.005), had been febrile longer (P = 0.005), had splenomegaly (P < 0.005) and hypoglycaemia (P < 0.008) more often and were more likely to have been treated with chloroquine (P < 0.005) than those without severe anaemia. The counts of asexual parasites in the peripheral blood were not significantly correlated with depth of coma or severity of anaemia. The observed widespread and uncontrolled use of chloroquine has probably led to the development of resistant malaria and of many severe complications despite early consultation. While early treatment of febrile illnesses in young children and immediate medical attention for altered consciousness must be emphasized in the community approach to severe malaria, our data indicate that effective public health measures will be difficult to develop in the face of a high prevalence of chloroquine resistance.