Prevalence of Malaria Among COVID-19 Suspected Cases, Abuja, Nigeria, 2021

  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Vector-borne
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Malaria and COVID-19 share symptoms like fever, headaches, difficulty in breathing and fatigue. Determining if a patient is positive for COVID-19 or malaria based on symptoms alone might be misleading, especially during a pandemic. We therefore determined the prevalence of, co-infection of malaria and COVID-19, factors associated with co-infection, and the positivity rate of COVID-19 among COVID-19 suspected cases in the FCT.

We conducted cross-sectional study in five selected tertiary health facilities in Abuja, among 254 febrile patients attending COVID-19 screening centers. We used systematic sampling technique to select respondents and collected data with a structured interviewer-administered questionnaire. Data included socio-demographic characteristics, malaria prevalence, COVID-19 positivity rate, and co-infection. We collected samples for malaria and COVID-19 testing. We calculated means, standard deviations, and proportions.

The mean age was 37.1±12.6 years, with a range of 18-80 years. The age group 30-49 years had the highest representation among the respondents (55.1%). Hausas (39.1%) accounted for the highest proportion. Fifty-four percent of respondents were married. Only 2% tested positive for malaria, and 1.8% for COVID-19. No respondent presented with co-infection.

The prevalence of malaria amongst patients presenting themselves for SARS-CoV-2 testing was low while the prevalence of COVID-19 was also low. However, there was no detection of malaria-COVID-19 coinfection among the respondents. There is still a need to test all suspected cases of COVID-19 that present in a testing center for malaria. Additionally, this study also suggests that malaria may be over-diagnosed in Nigeria.

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