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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

In a rare case, 12-year-old tribal boy detected with four species of malaria

Of the four malaria species, P. falciparum causes the most severe symptoms and can even lead to death.

health Updated: Sep 20, 2017 13:03 IST
In a rare diagnosis, a 12-year-old Chhattisgarh boy was found to be suffering from quadruple malaria.
In a rare diagnosis, a 12-year-old Chhattisgarh boy was found to be suffering from quadruple malaria.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A 12-year-old tribal boy from Chhattisgarh was diagnosed with quadruple malaria— wherein four types of plasmodium parasites are found in a single blood sample, making it the first such reported case from India.

The rare case that was documented in the journal Public Library of Sciences (PLOS) could increase the diagnostic and clinical challenge for experts working in the field of malaria control.

The boy had come from a remote village to the community health centre (CHC), Darbha, in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh with complains of ‘repeated fever’.

Malaria is a major health problem in the district.

The boy’s blood sample was tested at the malaria clinic of the National Institute for Research in Tribal Health, Jabalpur, and was found to have four species of plasmodium parasites— P.falciparum, P.vivax, P.malariae and P.ovale.

P. falciparum was the dominant species in the sample. Of the 4 species, P. falciparum causes the most severe symptoms, including severe anaemia, brain fever, multi-organ failure, and in certain cases even death.

NIRTH that is run under the Indian Council of Medical Research was established at Darbha CHC of Bastar district in 2015, to provide prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria in difficult and conflict-affected areas.

An examination of 160 blood samples collected and examined at the institute, led to the discovery of multiple cases of mixed infection with two or more species.

Malaria diagnosis is mainly based on microscopic examination of blood smears.

Mixed infections of P. vivax and P. falciparum were the highest (19%), followed by P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. malariae (2.5%) mixing up and P. falciparum and P. malariae (1.3%) combination in few samples.

Malaria control has seen tremendous progress not just in India but world over, with 57 out of 106 countries having shown 75% reduction in malaria incidence.

However, experts in India say it is too early to hit the panic button as far this rare diagnosis is concerned.

“This is a rare phenomenon, and raising concerns based on a single case isn’t right. We will need to wait and watch closely whether more such cases come or not,” says Dr Neena Valecha, Director, ICMR’s- National Institute of Malaria Research.

Of the 4,86,059 malaria cases reported till July this year, 3,41,219 were P.falciferum. Forty-four people have died of the infection.

“We do report mixed infections and mostly treat for P.falciparum, however, what’s more important is that the treatment is also effective for other species,” says Dr Valecha.

First Published: Sep 20, 2017 13:03 IST