The association between malaria and non-typhoid Salmonella bacteraemia in children in sub-Saharan Africa: a literature review

Malar J. 2014 Oct 13;13:400. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-13-400.


Plasmodium falciparum malaria and non-typhoid Salmonella (NTS) bacteraemia are both major causes of morbidity and mortality in children in sub-Saharan Africa. Co-infections are expected to occur because of their overlapping geographical distribution, but accumulating evidence indicates that malaria is a risk factor for NTS bacteraemia. A literature review was undertaken to provide an overview of the evidence available for this association, the epidemiology of malaria-NTS co-infection (including the highest risk groups), the underlying mechanisms, and the clinical consequences of this association, in children in sub-Saharan Africa. The burden of malaria-NTS co-infection is highest in young children (especially those less than three years old). Malaria is one of the risk factors for NTS bacteraemia in children, and the risk is higher with severe malaria, especially severe malarial anaemia. There is insufficient evidence to determine whether asymptomatic parasitaemia is a risk factor for NTS bacteraemia. Many mechanisms have been proposed to explain how malaria causes susceptibility to NTS, ranging from macrophage dysfunction to increased gut permeability, but the most consistent evidence is that malarial haemolysis creates conditions which favour bacterial growth, by increasing iron availability and by impairing neutrophil function. Few discriminatory clinical features have been described for those with malaria and NTS co-infection, except for a higher risk of anaemia compared to those with either infection alone. Children with malaria and NTS bacteraemia co-infection have higher case fatality rates compared to those with malaria alone, and similar to those with bacteraemia alone. Antimicrobial resistance is becoming widespread in invasive NTS serotypes, making empirical treatment problematic, and increasing the need for prevention measures. Observational studies indicate that interventions to reduce malaria transmission might also have a substantial impact on decreasing the incidence of NTS bacteraemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacteremia / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coinfection / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Malaria / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Salmonella Infections / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult