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Background: Changes in blood cell profile were common findings in malaria. In the rural community of Kano State, Nigeria, information on haematological changes in human malaria was scanty in spite of their role in the pathophysiology of malaria. This cross-sectional study was undertaken to determine blood cell profiles in malaria patients attending a rural hospital in malaria-endemic region.
Methods: Blood samples (3 ml each) were collected in EDTA-containers from 150 randomly selected outpatients attending Gaya General Hospital, screened for malaria using RDT kit (CareStart Malaria HRP 2, Access Bio Inc., USA) based on Histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP-2), and blood cell profiles determined using automated Sysmex haematologic analyser. Data on socio-demographics and medical history related to the study objectives, such as taking antimalarial regimen and/or haematinic, and direct involvement in blood transfusion, were obtained by questionnaire administration supplemented with oral interview.
Findings: The study revealed a malaria prevalence of 67.33%, with highest in 11-20years (80.95%) and lowest (55.00%) in 1-10years age-groups; slightly higher in females (68.25%) than in males (66.67%) without significant difference (P<0.05). For blood parameters, malaria positive patients have a significantly lower mean PCV of 32.2% as compared to 38.18% obtained for malaria negative patients (P<0.05). The mean Hb was 10.76±2.27g/dL and 12.65±2.38g/dL (P<0.05), while WBC revealed 6.91×109/L and 6.56×109/L in malaria positive and negative patients, respectively. Platelet counts recorded 179.24×109/L and 230.47×109/L (P<0.05). Socio-demographic factors such as level of education, occupation and marital status did not significantly influence malaria prevalence.
Interpretation: Low PCV and Hb in malaria patients indicate mild anaemia due to malaria-related haemolysis. The occurrence of thrombocytopenia may be due to other underlying pathology as further studies with larger sample size are needed to ascertain the cause of low platelet counts in malaria patients in the study area.
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