Incidence and etiology of coma of unknown cause in Kilifi County

Reference Number: 
Dr. James Njunge and Dr. Abdirahman Abdi

Acute non-traumatic coma is a common presentation in children admitted to Kilifi County Hospital (KCH). Causes include acute bacterial meningitis (ABM) and cerebral malaria (CM) but approximately 36% of those admitted with non-traumatic coma have no known cause identified. Importantly, many children with coma of unknown cause (CUC) are at a higher risk of death and neurological impairment probably because the unknown cause has not been objectively targeted for treatment. With declining malaria and consequently bacteraemia, children presenting with CUC are increasingly accounting for a larger proportion of those admitted with non-traumatic coma. Currently, the aetiology of CUC is not known and therefore there is need to investigate the possible causes to improve the management of these cases.


MSc Project Objectives:

  1. Review existing admission clinical data from children admitted with coma at KCH from 2002 to 2018 to determine the incidence and risk of mortality associated with childhood admissions with CUC over time.
  2. Investigate the aetiology of CUC by analyzing metagenomic data from archived plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples.


The student will learn:

  1. Data cleaning, curation and analysis
  2. Manuscript writing


Preferred training background of prospective student

  1. Statistics
  2. Epidemiology
  3. Bioinformatics with statistical skills


Application deadline: 19 July 2019