Rates of infection of Malaria and Typhoid Fever Among Pregnant Women

Rates of infection of Malaria and Typhoid Fever Among Pregnant Women


Malaria and typhoid fever are both endemic in the tropics and pregnant women constitute one of the high risk groups. This study was carried out to determine the rate of malaria-typhoid co-infection in pregnant women attending antenatal clinics at Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State Nigeria. About120 volunteer pregnant women were recruited during routine antenatal. Malaria infection was determined by qualitative immunodiagnostic assay and confirmed by microscopic examination of thick and thin Giemsa stained slides.

Typhoid infection was determined by the Widalagglutination method and confirmed by stool culture. Out of 120 pregnant women studied, 49 (40.8%) were positive for malaria parasite and equally had a significant titer of salmonella antibiotics. Of the 120 stool samples cultured 29 (24.2%) were positive for salmonella.

Thus, the overall rate of malaria-typhoid co-infection was 12.5% by both Widalagglutination and stool culture methods. The co-infection of malaria and typhoid in pregnancy has a profound effect on adverse pregnancy outcomes. We advocate for routine screening and treatment of infected pregnant women.

Keywords: Co-infection, Malaria and Typhoid, Pregnant Women, Ebony State, Nigeria


Malaria and typhoid fever (caused by plasmodium falciparum and salmonellaspp respectively) are both diseases of public health importance that are endemic in both tropical and subtropical countries including Nigeria. The association between typhoid and malaria was first described in medical literature in the middle of the 19th century by the United States Army and was erroneously called “typho-malaria fever” (Smith, 2002).

Recent studies in Africa seem to corroborate the relationship between malaria and typhoid fever (Ammahetal., 2009). It is noteworthy that the socio-economic and environmental conditions that tend to sustain the high prevalence of malaria in endemic areas also favor the transmission of salmonellatyphi, the causative agent of typhoid fever. (Prasannaetal., 2011)

The World Health Organization has estimated that in 1995, 219 million cases of malaria were documented with about 1.2 million deaths (Brabin 1983). Malaria infection often presents with headache, fever, shivering, arthralgia (joint pain), vomiting, hemolytic anaemia, jaundice, hemoglobinuria, and retinal damage (Brabin, 1983; Gills etal., 1999).

Complications of malaria involve respiratory distress, which occurs in up to 25% of adults and 40% of children. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) may develop in 5-25% of adults and up to 29% of pregnant women, although it is rare in young children (Isibor, etal., 2011).

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to malaria infection. In Sub-Sahara Africa, maternal malaria is associated with up to 200,000 estimated infant deaths yearly (Isiboretal., 2011).

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Typhoid fever is considered a particular risk in pregnancy because of reduced peristaltic activity in the gastro-intestinal and biliary tracts and increased prevalence of biliary “sludge” (Bashyametal., 2007).


The study was carried out at the antenatal clinic, Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

Study population

The study involved pregnant women who had a fever by the time of their visit to the hospital.

Sample collection

Intravenous blood sample (5ml) was collected from each participant. The samples were stored in the refrigerator after collection and were processed within six hours. Stool samples were also collected from participants using sterile universal containers.

Determination of malaria infection

This was carried out using an antigen Rapid Test Device method as well as Giemsa stained thick and thin blood smear for microscopic detection of PFalciparum. Both procedures were carried out as described by Cheesbrough, (2002).

Widal test

Widal agglutination test was performed on all malaria-positive blood samples using commercial antigen suspension and the procedure was as described by the manufacturer.

Also, stool culture was done to further confirm S. Typhi. 10ml of selenite- F broth was added to 3g of the stool sample and mixed vigorously, and then incubated at 37oc for 24 hours. Thereafter, a loopful of the sample was inoculated onto salmonella-stigella agar medium and incubated at 370c for 24 hours to get discreet colonies (Lactose fermenters were confirmed by pink colonies on SSA). The colonies were Gram stained and further subjected to biochemical analysis.


Out of the 120 pregnant women at their different stages of pregnancy that participated in this present study, 49 (40.9%) were positive for malaria, while 29(24.2) tested positive for S. typhi. Malaria infection was highest during the first trimester (16.7%) while S. typhi was more prevalent during the third trimester. Overall malaria and typhoid fever co-infection showed a prevalence of 12.5% (see table 1).

Table 1: prevalence of P. falciparum and S. typhi among women in different stages of pregnancy

Stages of pregnancy N0 examined P. falciparum S. typhi Co-infection
1st trimester 40 20(16.7%) 8(6.7%) 5(4.2%)
2nd trimester 30 11(9.2%) 6(5%) 4(3.3%)
3rd trimester 50 18(15%) 15(12.5%) 6(5%)
Total 120 49(40.9%) 29(24.2%) 15(12.5%)

Table 2 and 3 below shows the comparative methods employed during this study. Both RDT and Microscopy methods were considered desirable as they gave positive results for P. falciparum in all stages. Similarly, both widal test and culture methods gave confirmatory positive results for S. typhi.

Table 2 comparative test for malaria using rapid diagnostic test and microscopy.

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Stage of pregnancy RDT (%) Microscopy (%) Number examined
1st 20(16.7) 20(16.7) 40
2nd 11(9.2) 11(9.2) 30
3rd 18(15) 18(15) 50
Total 49(40.9) 49(40.9) 120

Table 3 comparative Test for S. typhi by the widal and culture methods

stages of pregnancy Widal (%) Stool culture (%) Number examined
1st 8(6.7) 8(6.7) 40
2nd 6(5) 6(5) 30
3rd 15(12.5) 15(12.5) 50
Total 29(24.2) 29(24.2) 120


Malaria and its co-infection with typhoid fever is a major public health problem in pregnant women in Nigeria. The malaria prevalence rate of 40.9% observed in the present study suggests high endemicity and transmission of the malaria parasite. The high prevalence suggests increased susceptibility of pregnant women to malaria infection often due to induced immunosuppression (Ndukaetal., 206).

The high prevalence could also be attributed to the lack of adequate preventive measures being adopted by pregnant women. Pregnant women in their first trimester were more infected with malaria as recorded in this study and this was in line with the earlier findings of Ukibeetal., (2008). This could attribute to the absence of a medical facility or the inability of the pregnant women to register for antenatal on time.

The prevalence of malaria-typhoid co-infection among the pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in this study was 12.5%. This is comparable to previous reports (Akinyemietal., 2007; Prasanna, 2011). The observed prevalence suggests that typhoid fever is a common co-infection in malaria-infected women in this part of the country. The reduction of cellular and humoral immunity which occurs in pregnancy renders pregnant women susceptible to other infections including typhoid fever (Scholarpurka, etal., 2000).

Rates Of Infection Of Malaria And Typhoid Fever Among Pregnant WomenMalaria-infected pregnant women are said to be more prone to typhoid fever because of the increased hemolysis in malaria which is said to increase the availability of iron in the tissue especially the liver and salmonella species are believed to thrive more in iron-rich tissues (Kaye and Hook, 2003).

It is pertinent to note that both typhoid and malaria in pregnant women present with management problems since most drugs used in the treatment of both diseases are contraindicated in pregnancy. Also, both diseases have been associated with pregnancy outcomes such as premature deliveries, spontaneous abortions, low birth weight, and intrauterine fetal deaths (Nasemetal., 2008).

Rates Of Infection Of Malaria And Typhoid Fever Among Pregnant WomenThe transmission of Pfalciparium and STyphi is affected by environmental factors such as poor environmental sanitation, poor housing, and inadequate safe water supply. This could be the reason for the high prevalence since the majority of the pregnant women were rural dwellers. The use of the insecticide-treated net, safe water supply, and personal hygiene, as well as early registration for antenatal clinics for pregnant women, are advocated.

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Rates Of Infection Of Malaria And Typhoid Fever Among Pregnant Women

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