Aug 12, 2022
As many as one-third of children may be getting misdiagnosed with severe malaria when in fact their symptoms are being caused by something else.
With coma and severe anaemia, the symptoms of severe malaria can be punishing. But how do you ensure that those symptoms are because of malaria, and not something else?
As many as one-third of children diagnosed with severe malaria in high-transmission settings in Africa could in fact be sick of another cause. That’s according to new research.
Many patients can have malaria, but it is asymptomatic malaria. Their severe symptoms - similar to malaria symptoms - could be caused by something else.
To diagnose malaria, a blood smear is done to look for the malaria parasite, or by looking for a protein - a byproduct of the parasite - in the blood which indicates - indirectly - recent malarial activity.
Researchers compared the diagnosis of severe malaria against two markers of malaria infection: platelet count and concentrations of this parasite protein. They found that these markers together are a good way to diagnose severe malaria and demonstrate that some children may be getting misdiagnosed.
Improving the diagnosis of severe malaria in African children using platelet counts and plasma PfHRP2 concentrations
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The Johns Hopkins Malaria Minute podcast is produced by the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute to highlight impactful malaria research and to share it with the global community.