Background Systemic bacterial infections are a major cause of paediatric febrile illness in sub-Saharan Africa. Aim of this study was to assess the effects of social and geographical determinants on the risk of bacteraemia in a rural-urban transition zone in Ghana. Methods Children below 15 years of age with fever were recruited at an outpatient department in the suburban belt of Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city. Blood was taken for bacterial culture and malaria diagnostics. The socio-economic status of participants was calculated using Principle Component Analysis. A scale, based on key urban characteristics, was established to quantify urbanicity for all communities in the hospital catchment area. A case-control analysis was conducted, where children with and without bacteraemia were cases and controls, respectively. Results Bacteraemia was detected in 72 (3.1%) of 2,306 hospital visits. Non- typhoidal Salmonella (NTS; n = 24; 33.3%) and Salmonella typhi (n = 18; 25.0%) were the most common isolates. Logistic regression analysis showed that bacteraemia was negatively associated with urbanicity (odds ratio [OR] = 0.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.7–1.0) and socio-economic status (OR = 0.8; 95% CI: 0.6–0.9). Both associations were stronger if only NTS infections were used as cases (OR = 0.5; 95% CI: 0.3–0.8 and OR = 0.6; 95% CI: 0.4–1.0, respectively). Conclusions The results of this study highlight the importance of individual as well as community factors as independent risk factors for invasive bacterial infection (IBI) and especially NTS. Epidemiological data support physicians, public health experts and policy makers to identify disease prevention and treatment needs in order to secure public health in the transitional societies of developing countries.