Integrated fever management: Disease severity markers to triage children with malaria and non-malarial febrile illness

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Abstract

Febrile symptoms in children are a leading cause of health-care seeking behaviour worldwide. The majority of febrile illnesses are uncomplicated and self-limited, without the need for referral or hospital admission. However, current diagnostic tools are unable to identify which febrile children have self-limited infection and which children are at risk of progressing to life-threatening infections, such as severe malaria. This paper describes the need for a simple community-based tool that can improve the early recognition and triage of febrile children, with either malarial or non-malarial illness, at risk of critical illness. The integration of a disease severity marker into existing malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) could enable detection of children at risk of severe infection in the hospital and community, irrespective of aetiology. Incorporation of a disease severity marker could inform individualized management and early triage of children at risk of life-threatening infection. A child positive for both malaria and a disease severity marker could be prioritized for urgent referral/admission and parenteral therapy. A child positive for malaria and negative for a disease severity marker could be managed conservatively, as an out-patient, with oral anti-malarial therapy. An RDT with a disease severity marker could facilitate an integrated community-based approach to fever syndromes and improve early recognition, risk stratification, and prompt treatment of severe malaria and other life-threatening infections.

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McDonald, C. R., Weckman, A., Richard-Greenblatt, M., Leligdowicz, A., & Kain, K. C. (2018). Integrated fever management: Disease severity markers to triage children with malaria and non-malarial febrile illness. Malaria Journal, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-018-2488-x

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