Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A series of articles that set out to explore the global distribution of infections that cause non-malarial febrile illness has been published in BMC Medicine. The series brings together the results of large-scale systematic reviews of the causes of fever in Africa, Latin America, and Southern and South-Eastern Asia, and has helped identify major knowledge gaps, geographical differences, priority areas for diagnostics research and development, and enabled the most comprehensive systematic review of literature to date.

Mother and newborn © Arne Hoel World Bank

Febrile illness is the most common reason for childhood healthcare visits globally, with hundreds of millions of cases of fever in 0 to four-year-olds presenting at health facilities every year. Historically, in malaria-endemic countries it was assumed that malaria was the cause of fever, but with the advent of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria, combined with intensified malaria control activities over the last decade, the incidence rate of malaria has been substantially reduced. Health workers and researchers have noted that once malaria is ruled out, it is difficult to diagnose febrile illness due to limited diagnostic tools, laboratory facilities and the scarcity of comprehensive surveillance networks in low-resource settings. Thus, patients with fever are often misdiagnosed and given inappropriate treatments, such as antibiotics in the absence of a confirmed diagnosis, which in addition to mistreating individual patients may contribute to antimicrobial resistance.

Today, the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, a disease with a potential presentation of non-specific febrile illness, further highlights the need for accurate diagnostics, strong surveillance networks and standardized data to efficiently handle this disease alongside addressing the multitudes of causes of potentially co-existing non-malarial febrile illnesses.

In order to map the main causes of fever in all malaria-endemic regions, researchers associated with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN); the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO) at the University of Oxford, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University of Otago, University of Hong Kong, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), and the MORU Tropical Health Network - Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit (LOMWRU) and Cambodia-Oxford Medical Research Unit (COMRU) screened more than 100,000 articles published between 1980 and 2015 to provide the most comprehensive data available to date.

Read the full story on the IDDO website

Similar stories

ASM Editor in conversation with Nick White

Malaria continues to be a major killer, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations with more than 500,000 deaths per year, most of them African children. Emergence of resistance to antimalarial drugs is major public health issue. American Society for Microbiology Editor Dr Cesar Arias discusses with Professor Sir Nick White the latest information on this rapidly evolving field.

AMR and scrub typhus among Chiangrai Unit's research priorities

Which infections are most common in the Chiangrai region? How should we treat them and how can we improve diagnostic? Which strategies are most effective in directing antibiotic treatment? Blog by Carlo Perrone, research physician based at the Chiang Rai Clinical Research Unit in Chiangrai, Thailand.

Arjen Dondorp, Peter Horby and Rose McGready elected Academy of Medical Sciences Fellows

"Although it is hard to look beyond the pandemic right now," says President of the Academy of Medical Sciences Professor Dame Anne Johnson, "I want to stress how important it is that the Academy Fellowship represents the widest diversity of biomedical and health sciences. The greatest health advances rely on the findings of many types of research, and on multidisciplinary teams and cross-sector and global collaboration."

Pint of Science Thailand is back

Live and on-line from Bangkok! Be ready for Thursday 13th May, when Pint of Science Thailand will stream live from Bangkok. Join us via Facebook, YouTube or right here from the Pint of Science Thailand website as we journey from bacterial infections to viruses, discover how clinical trials work, and how scientific development is seen in the eyes of the law!

Innovative strategies for engaging communities with malaria research

For World Malaria Day 2021, F1000 Research Blog spoke to Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah about her research focussed on drama and arts-based community engagement for malaria research, published with Wellcome Open Research.

New project’s child-appropriate primaquine doses could have significant impact on global burden of malaria

On Sunday 25 April, World Malaria Day, the Developing Paediatric Primaquine (DPP) project will launch its website. DPP will produce children-appropriate primaquine doses that could both cut malaria deaths in vulnerable African children by blocking transmission of P. falciparum malaria and reduce P. vivax malaria more widely.