oa South African Medical Journal - Parasitaemia and haematological changes in malaria-infected refugees in South Africa : research

Volume 106, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Haematological changes associated with malaria are well recognised, but may vary with level of malaria endemicity and patient background, haemoglobinopathy, nutritional status, demographic factors and malaria immunity. Although malaria in South Africa (SA) has been reduced dramatically in endemic areas, little is known about the haematological changes associated with malaria infection among refugee populations who live in SA cities.

To describe haematological alterations among malaria-infected refugees living in Durban, SA.
A cross-sectional study was conducted from September 2012 to July 2013 inclusive at a refugee centre in central Durban. Blood samples from 102 adult black African refugees were examined for infection with malaria parasites, and haematological profiles were compared with standard normal values.
Malaria infection was detected in 16 (15.7%) of the 102 participants. The mean haemoglobin (Hb) value was reduced (mean 9.2 g/dL) in the participants with malaria, who also had an extremely low mean packed cell volume (PCV) of 28.3%. The mean Hb value in the non-malaria-infected participants was normal (12.6 g/dL), and the mean PCV was slightly low (38.0%).
Anaemia was more common among participants with malaria infection than among those who were uninfected. Other haematological changes were common in both infected and uninfected participants, suggesting that infections other than malaria, or other underlying factors that cause haematological alterations, may be present. This research needs to be expanded to include a large sample and other areas and infections.

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