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Diagnosis and management of malaria in the ICU 

Diagnosis and management of malaria in the ICU
Diagnosis and management of malaria in the ICU

Christopher J. M. Whitty

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date: 21 February 2020

Falciparum malaria is the commonest life-threatening imported tropical infection. The most important critical care intervention is rapid high-dose antimalarial treatment with artesunate, or if that is not available quinine. The common complications of malaria are different in children and adults. Cerebral malaria may occur in both, for which there is no specific therapy. Renal failure and acute lung injury are much more common in adults, and may occur late in the course of the disease, even after parasites have cleared. In children acidosis, anaemia and Gram-negative sepsis are more common. Renal and respiratory support may be needed in adults. Malaria alone seldom causes shock and if patients are shocked, co-existing Gram-negative sepsis should be considered. In children there is evidence that bolus hydration increases mortality. Most patients make a full recovery even after prolonged periods of unconsciousness.

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