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.

African 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

Antibiotic accountability: how countries and companies perform

Patients in north Africa and the Middle East are using antibiotics in sharply rising quantities far beyond the global average, raising concerns over the escalating risks of resistance to medicines to treat bacterial infections. Estimated antibiotic consumption for 204 countries between 2000 and 2018 shows a 46 per cent increase in global antibiotic usage, with a surge in nations including India and Vietnam.

Paul Newton named ASTMH Distinguished International Fellow

Professor Paul Newton was announced new Distinguished International Fellow at the ASTMH Annual Meeting Awards Ceremony on the 17th November. This distinction formally recognizes individuals who have made eminent contributions to a particular aspect of tropical medicine or hygiene.

GRAM study provides the first longitudinal estimates of global antibiotic consumption in 204 countries from 2000 to 2018

Global antibiotic consumption rates increased by 46 percent in the last two decades, according to the first study to provide longitudinal estimates for human antibiotic consumption covering 204 countries from 2000 to 2018, published in Lancet Planetary Health by the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (GRAM) Project.

Large-scale systematic review identifies research gaps in scrub typhus

A new, extensive systematic review has identified significant research gaps in the treatment of scrub typhus which could be improved by developing a database for individual participant data (IPD) to enable more detailed analyses to address important knowledge gaps such as the optimum dosing for children and to improve patient outcomes.

Peter Horby receives prestigious award for outstanding service to public health

The Faculty of Public Health has awarded its prestigious Alwyn Smith Prize to Professor Sir Peter Horby for 2020/2021 in recognition of his outstanding service to public health as a global leader in epidemic science.