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Seasonal profiles of malaria infection, anaemia, and bednet use among age groups and communities in northern Ghana

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We conducted all-age point prevalence surveys to profile the severity and seasonality of malaria and anaemia in Kassena-Nankana District of northern Ghana. Random cross-sectional surveys were timed to coincide with the end of low (May 2001) and high (November 2001) malaria transmission seasons and to yield information as to the potential value of haemoglobin (Hb) levels and parasitaemia as markers of malaria morbidity and/or malaria vaccine effect. Parasitaemia was found in 22% (515 of 2286) screened in May (dry-low transmission), and in 61% of the general population (1026 of 1676) screened in November (wet-high transmission). Malaria prevalence in May ranged from 4% (infants <6 months and adults 50–60 years) to 54% (children 5–10 years). Age-specific malaria prevalence in November ranged from 38% (adults 50–60 years) to 82% (children 5–10 years). Differences between low- and high-transmission periods in the prevalence of severe anaemia (SA) among young children (6–24 months) were unexpectedly comparable (low, 3.9%vs. high, 5.4%; P = 0.52) and greatly reduced from levels measured in this same community and age group in November 2000 (12.5%) and November 1996 (22.0%). Despite the lower frequency of anaemia/SA in young children surveyed in 2001, it was still clear that this condition was strongly associated with parasitaemia and that children under 5 years of age experienced a significant drop in their mean Hb levels by the end of the high transmission season. Prevalence of parasitaemia was significantly lower (P < 0.01) among infants and young children (<2 years) whose parents reported the use of bednets. There was a significantly lower risk of parasitaemia among infants [odds ratio (OR) 6–8] and young children (OR 3–4) living in the central, more urbanized sector of the study area.
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Keywords: Ghana; anaemia; bednet; fever; irrigation; malaria; parasitaemia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Legon, Accra, Ghana 2: Navrongo Health Research Center, Navrongo, Ghana 3: Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, MD, USA 4: Sanaria, Gaithersburg, MD, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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