Management of severe falciparum malaria.
Njuguna P., Newton C.
Plasmodium falciparum is the most common cause of severe and life-threatening malaria. Falciparum malaria causes over one million deaths every year. In Africa, a vast majority of these deaths occur in children under five years of age. The presentation of severe malaria varies with age and geographical distribution. The mortality rate is higher in adults than in children but African children develop neuro-cognitive sequelae following severe malaria more frequently. The management of severe malaria includes prompt administration of appropriate parenteral anti-malarial agents and early recognition and treatment of the complications. In children, the complications include metabolic acidosis (often caused by hypovolaemia), hypoglycaemia, hyperlacticacidaemia, severe anaemia, seizures and raised intracranial pressure. In adults, renal failure and pulmonary oedema are more common causes of death. In contrast, concomitant bacterial infections occur more frequently in children and are associated with mortality in children. Admission to critical or intensive care units may help reduce the mortality, and the frequency and severity of sequelae related to severe malaria.