Etiology of febrile illness among patients seeking care at a district hospital in Manyara, Tanzania

Authors: Mercy Epafra Anga, Fauster Mgaya, Boaz Wadugu, Elieshiupendo M. Niccodem, Mecky Matee

Ger. J. Microbiol. 2024. vol. 4, Iss. 1 pp:6-14


Managing febrile illness is complicated due to the increasing involvement of non-malarial pathogens. This hospital-based cross-sectional study was conducted in Kiteto District Hospital in Northern Western, Tanzania, between January and February 2019. Out-patients with a temperature ≥38°C were consecutively enrolled until the sample size was reached. Whole blood samples were collected aseptically and tested for 36 pathogens using a multiplex PCR. Out of the 426 febrile patients, 184 (43.2%) had pathogens detected in their bloodstream. Brucella spp. was isolated in 61 (14.3%) patients, followed by Dengue virus 51 (12.0%), Salmonella Typhi 39 (9.2%), Plasmodium falciparum 37(8.7%), Coxiella burnetii 23 (5.4%), and Leptospira spp., 17 (4.0%). Forty patients (21.7%) had more than one pathogen, whereby co-infection with Brucella spp. and C. burnetii was frequent among study participants. Dengue virus was the most frequent in children aged below 14 years, whereas Brucella spp. was the dominant agent in adults. The cause of fever was not identified in 242 (56.8%) of these patients. Houses surrounded by long grasses were risk factors for febrile illness caused by P. falciparum, consuming untreated milk and consuming sour milk were risk factors for febrile illness caused by bacteria zoonoses while not washing hands after visiting the toilet was a risk factor for febrile illness by S. Typhi. Regarding management, 143 (34.8%) were given anti-malaria despite malaria rapid diagnostic test (MRDT) negative results, while 26.5% were given both anti-malaria and antibiotics for febrile illness. In this study, the majority of febrile illness cases were due to non-malarial pathogens, with P. falciparum accounting for only 8.7% of the cases. We found that about one-third of the cases were wrongly treated for malaria, and more than a quarter were wrongly given antibiotics. A review of the management of febrile illnesses is warranted.


Febrile illness, Non-malarial pathogens, Multiplex PCR, Bacterial zoonoses


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