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In malaria-endemic areas, Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia is common in apparently healthy children and severe malaria is commonly misdiagnosed in patients with incidental parasitemia. We assessed whether the plasma Plasmodium falciparum DNA concentration is a useful datum for distinguishing uncomplicated from severe malaria in African children and Asian adults. P. falciparum DNA concentrations were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 224 African children (111 with uncomplicated malaria and 113 with severe malaria) and 211 Asian adults (100 with uncomplicated malaria and 111 with severe malaria) presenting with acute falciparum malaria. The diagnostic accuracy of plasma P. falciparum DNA concentrations in identifying severe malaria was 0.834 for children and 0.788 for adults, similar to that of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 levels and substantially superior to that of parasite densities (P < .0001). The diagnostic accuracy of plasma P. falciparum DNA concentrations plus plasma P. falciparum HRP2 concentrations was significantly greater than that of plasma P. falciparum HRP2 concentrations alone (0.904 for children [P = .004] and 0.847 for adults [P = .003]). Quantitative real-time PCR measurement of parasite DNA in plasma is a useful method for diagnosing severe falciparum malaria on fresh or archived plasma samples.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/infdis/jiu590

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Infect Dis

Publication Date

01/04/2015

Volume

211

Pages

1128 - 1133

Keywords

Plasmodium falciparum, diagnostic accuracy, malaria, plasma DNA, severe disease, Adult, Animals, Bangladesh, Child, Preschool, DNA, Protozoan, Diagnosis, Differential, Female, Humans, India, Infant, Longitudinal Studies, Malaria, Falciparum, Male, Mozambique, Parasitemia, Plasmodium falciparum, ROC Curve, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, Severity of Illness Index, Tanzania, Young Adult