Fever in the returning traveller: Dual infection with SARS-CoV-2 and Plasmodium falciparum malaria

Keywords: malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2

Abstract

Background: More than 90% of the global 400 000 annual malaria deaths occur in Africa. The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has resulted in more than 830 000 deaths in its first 10 months.

Case presentation: This case describes a patient who had travelled from Mozambique to Cape Town, presented with a mild febrile illness, and was diagnosed with both COVID-19 and uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection. She responded well to malaria treatment and had an uneventful COVID-19 admission. Her blood smear showed a low malaria parasitaemia and a relatively high gametocyte load.

Conclusion: We postulate that her clinical course and abnormal smear could well be due to reciprocal disease-modifying effects of the infections. The presenting symptoms of COVID-19 may mimic endemic infectious diseases including malaria, tuberculosis, pneumocystis pneumonia and influenza thus there is a need for clinical vigilance to identify and treat such co-infections.

The full article is available at https://doi.org/10.36303/JMLSTSA.2020.2.2.57

Author Biographies

MA Parker, Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

E Nell, Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University and National Health Laboratory Services, Tygerberg Hospital, South Africa

A Mowlana, Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

M S Moolla, Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

S Karamchand, Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

L Murphy, Eersterivier Hospital

Eersterivier Hospital, South Africa

T Lovelock, Eersterivier Hospital

Eersterivier Hospital, South Africa

KS Kalombo, Eersterivier Hospital

Eersterivier Hospital, South Africa

A Parker, Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

ZC Chapanduka, Stellenbosch University

Stellenbosch University and National Health Laboratory Services, Tygerberg Hospital, South Africa

Published
2020-12-01