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Raab, Manuel; Pfadenhauer, Lisa M. ORCID: 0000-0001-5038-8072; Doumbouya, Dansira; Froeschl, Guenter (2022): Clinical presentations, diagnostics, treatments and treatment costs of children and adults with febrile illness in a tertiary referral hospital in south-eastern Guinea: A retrospective longitudinal cohort study.
In: PloS one 17(1), e0262084
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Abstract

BACKGROUND Febrile illness is frequent among patients in the tropics. It is caused by a wide variety of common diseases such as malaria or gastrointestinal infections but also by less common but highly contagious pathogens with epidemic potential. This study describes the clinical features of adult and paediatric patients with febrile illness in in the largest tertiary referral hospital in south-eastern Guinea, a region at high risk for viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks. The study further compares their diagnostic characteristics, treatments and outcomes with non-febrile patients in order to contribute to the local epidemiology of febrile illness. METHODS We used retrospective data collection to record demographic and clinical data of all incoming patients during a study period of three months. For the follow-up study of inpatients, we retrospectively reviewed patient charts for diagnostic characteristics, diagnoses and outcomes. RESULTS Of the 4317 incoming patients during the study period, 9.5% had a febrile illness. The most used diagnostic measures to identify causative agents in febrile patients were point-of-care tests and most treatments relied on antibiotics. Most common discharge diagnoses for febrile inpatients were malaria (9.6% adults, 56.7% children), salmonella gastroenteritis/typhoid (10.6% adults, 7.8% children) and respiratory infection/pneumonia (5.3% adults, 18.7% children). Inpatient mortality for children was significantly higher in febrile than non-febrile children (18.5% vs. 5.1%, p\textless0.001) and considerably higher in febrile than non-febrile adults (29.8% vs. 25.0%, p = 0.404). CONCLUSIONS Malaria, respiratory infection and gastroenteritis are considered the main causes for febrile illness. The wide reliance on rapid diagnostic tests to diagnose febrile patients not only risks to over- or under-diagnose certain diseases but also leaves the possibility of highly infectious diseases in febrile patients unexplored. Furthermore, the heavy reliance on antibiotics risks to cause antimicrobial resistance. High mortality rates in febrile patients, especially children, should be of concern to public health authorities.