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Bacteraemia associated with severe malaria in childhood is a sporadically reported phenomenon but its incidence and clinical importance are unknown. We have reviewed clinical and laboratory data from 783 Kenyan children sequentially admitted with a primary diagnosis of severe malaria. The overall incidence of bacteraemia in children with severe malaria was 7.8% (95% CI 5.5-10.0); however, in children under 30 months of age the incidence was 12.0% (95% CI 8.3-15.7). The presence of bacteraemia was associated with a 3-fold increase in mortality (33.3% vs. 10.4%, P < 0.001). We conclude that invasive bacterial disease may contribute to the pathophysiology of the clinical syndrome of severe malaria in an important subgroup of children. We recommend that young children with severe malaria be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics in addition to antimalarial drugs.

Original publication




Journal article


Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg

Publication Date





283 - 286


Anti-Bacterial Agents, Bacteremia, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Incidence, Infant, Kenya, Malaria, Male, Prospective Studies