Plasmodium vivax cerebral malaria in an adult patient in Sudan

Seth Amanfo, Maowia Mukhtar, Omer Eisawi, Elwaleed Elamin, Zeinab Imam, Manasik Hamed, Faiza Osman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Plasmodium vivax infection is rising in sub-Saharan Africa, where Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for more than 90% of malaria cases. While P. vivax is identified as a major cause of severe and cerebral malaria in South east Asia, the Pacific and South America, most of the severe and cerebral cases in Africa were attributed to P. falciparum. Cases of severe malaria due to P. vivax are emerging in Africa. A few severe P. vivax cases were reported in Eastern Sudan and they were underestimated due to the lack of accurate diagnosis, low parasitaemia and seldom use of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs).

Case presentation
A 60-year-old Sudanese male presented to the Al Kuwaiti hospital in the Sudan capital Khartoum. On admission, the patient was complaining of fever (measured temperature was 38 °C), sweating, chills, vomiting and confusion in the past 2 days prior to his admission. He rapidly deteriorated into a coma state within 48 h of the admission, with significant neck stiffness. He was admitted to the intensive care unit and was suspected of meningitis. Lumbar puncture was not performed since the patient was suffering from spinal cord disc. Brain CT scan was unremarkable. Several biochemical, haematological tests, and blood film for malaria were performed. The results of the laboratory tests were within the normal range except of mild elevation of the total white blood cell count and a significant decrease in the platelets count. Malaria parasites were seen in the blood film with high parasitaemia (quantified as 3 +++). The patient was diagnosed as P. vivax cerebral malaria based on the positive blood film and the amplification of P. vivax specific 499 bp amplicon using Plasmodium multi-species multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The patient was treated with quinine 10 mg/kg body weight for 10 days followed by primaquine 15 mg/days PO for 2 weeks. The symptoms subsided within 48 h and the patients was cured and released from the hospital.

Plasmodium vivax is an emerging cause of cerebral malaria in adults in Sudan and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of cerebral malaria for proper management of patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article number316 (2019)
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number316
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2019


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