Malaria Vivax Can Be Severe and Even Deadly

A study led by ISGlobal shows that the severity and mortality caused by Plasmodium vivax is higher among pregnant women and patients with chronic infections


ISGlobal researchers show that disease caused by Plasmodium vivax can be severe, particularly among pregnant women and patients with other infections. Published in the journal BMC Medicine, it is the first multisite study focused on the clinical characterization of P. vivax disease and performed in two very distinct geographical areas (Brazilian Amazon and Rajasthan, India).  

Although traditionally considered as a relatively benign parasite, there has been accumulating evidence during the last years supporting the severity of vivax infections. The authors decided to characterize the clinical complications of P. vivax infection in two distinct reference centres (in Brazil and in India) using for the first time a common protocol and a sensitive molecular diagnostic method that confirms infection and excludes other possible causes. In the study, the severity and mortality caused by P. vivax infection were significant, and up to 20 times higher in Rajasthan as compared to the Brazilian Amazon, most likely reflecting different demographic and socioeconomic conditions.  

Dr. Bassat, one of the leading authors and researcher at ISGlobal, says "this study confirms the potential severity associated to P. vivax infections" and shows that pregnant women and chronic patients need special attention when infected by this parasite. 

This study forms part of the research activity conducted by the Plasmodium vivax Consortium, created in 2007 with funding from the Fundació Cellex. The Consortium, formed by six institutions from Papua New Guinea, India, Brazil and Colombia, and coordinated by Dr. Pedro Alonso, was created with the aim of improving the understanding of P. vivax malaria. 

Currently, 2,500 million people are considered to be exposed to Plasmodium vivax, the most geographically widespread parasite causing malaria in humans. It is the predominant species in Latin America and some areas of Asia and Pacific regions.  




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