BACKGROUND: Rapid Diagnostic Testing (RDT), a point-of-care, qualitative test for Plasmodium antigen, has been a catalyst in the diagnosis of patients in malaria-endemic regions. While blood-smear microscopy remains the gold standard, RDT allows for swift diagnosis in resource-poor settings. Our study sought to utilize RDT to quantify local malaria prevalence in the Rorya district of Tanzania.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Two field clinics were established and 1,032 patients were screened. Those that described malaria symptoms were tested via RDT. The percentage of positive tests was compared to national data from the World Health Organization’s 2019 World Malaria report and the President’s Malaria Initiative Report for Tanzania. Intake data (sex, age, heart rate (HR), and temperature) were compared between the malaria-positive and malaria-negative groups.
RESULTS: 772 patients received RDT of whom 487 tested positive. There was a statistically significant difference in the percentage of positive patients between the two sites (52.0% vs 38.2%). Sixty percent of malaria-positives were female and the median age of this group was 10 yrs (range 5-15 yrs). Intake data showed a notable difference in median heart rates between malaria-positive and malaria-negative persons, 84.0 (72-100) and 72.0 (74-84) beats per minute (bpm), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of malaria in Rorya was significantly higher than the reported Tanzanian average. Additionally, children were at a statistically higher risk of contracting malaria. Our data indicates that RDT offers enhanced insight into the local malarial burden that may be valuable to (governmental) health providers for the disbursement of resources in malaria-endemic regions.