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Divining without SeedsThe Case for Strengthening Laboratory Medicine in Africa$
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Iruka N. Okeke

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449413

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449413.001.0001

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Fever: Beyond Malaria

Fever: Beyond Malaria

(p.38) 3 Fever: Beyond Malaria
Divining without Seeds

Iruka N. Okeke

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers the misdiagnosis of some infectious diseases as malaria. Recent reports from multiple African sites have observed that clinical diagnosis of severe malaria is often imprecise. For instance, doctors in a teaching hospital in Kumasi, Ghana, found that clinical signs and symptoms were insufficient to distinguish patients with severe malaria from those with life-threatening bacteremia. Diseases that produce symptoms similar to malaria include septicemia, Lyme disease and a number of viral infections, such as influenza. In parts of Africa that are hyperendemic for malaria, such as Nigeria, typhoid and other bacterial infections are often suspected only when malaria medicines do not work. Typhoid fever is caused by the human-adapted Typhi variety of the bacterium Salmonella enteritidis. People become infected with the organism by ingesting contaminated food or water. Most non-Typhi Salmonella cause uncomplicated diarrhea, but typhoid fever, sometimes called enteric fever, is a systemic illness characterized by a fever that is clinically indistinguishable from malaria.

Keywords:   malaria, infectious disease, Africa, diagnosis, misdiagnosis, typhoid fever

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