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BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax causes almost half of all malaria cases in Asia and is recognised as a significant cause of morbidity. In recent years it has been associated with severe and fatal disease. The extent to which P. vivax contributes to death is not known. METHODS: To define the epidemiology of mortality attributable to vivax malaria in southern Papua, Indonesia, a retrospective clinical records-based audit was conducted of all deaths in patients with vivax malaria at a tertiary referral hospital. RESULTS: Between January 2004 and September 2009, hospital surveillance identified 3,495 inpatients with P. vivax monoinfection and 65 (1.9%) patients who subsequently died. Charts for 54 of these 65 patients could be reviewed, 40 (74%) of whom had pure P. vivax infections on cross-checking. Using pre-defined conservative criteria, vivax malaria was the primary cause of death in 6 cases, a major contributor in 17 cases and a minor contributor in a further 13 cases. Extreme anaemia was the most common primary cause of death. Malnutrition, sepsis with respiratory and gastrointestinal manifestations, and chronic diseases were the commonest attributed causes of death for patients in the latter two categories. There were an estimated 293,763 cases of pure P. vivax infection in the community during the study period giving an overall minimum case fatality of 0.12 per 1,000 infections. The corresponding case fatality in hospitalised patients was 10.3 per 1,000 infections. CONCLUSIONS: Although uncommonly directly fatal, vivax malaria is an important indirect cause of death in southern Papua in patients with malnutrition, sepsis syndrome and chronic diseases, including HIV infection.

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/s12916-014-0217-z

Type

Journal article

Journal

BMC Med

Publication Date

18/11/2014

Volume

12

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Child, Child, Preschool, Clinical Audit, Female, HIV Infections, Humans, Indonesia, Infant, Malaria, Vivax, Male, Middle Aged, Plasmodium vivax, Prospective Studies, Retrospective Studies