Clinical profiles of 13 children with Plasmodium vivax cerebral malaria

Ann Trop Paediatr. 2011;31(4):351-6. doi: 10.1179/1465328111Y.0000000040.


Background: Bikaner region is endemic for both P. vivax and P. falciparum malaria. Usually, cerebral malaria is caused by P. falciparum but it has been reported recently also in P. vivax mono-infection. Epidemiologic studies and clinical descriptions of P. vivax cerebral malaria in children are rare.

Aims: To describe the clinical features of PCR-confirmed cerebral malaria owing to P. vivax mono-infection and its clinico-laboratory profile in Bikaner, Northwest India.

Methods: This observational prospective study was based on detailed clinical and laboratory investigation of children admitted with cerebral malaria owing to P. vivax between November 2008 and December 2010. Cerebral malaria was categorised according to the WHO (2000) criteria for P. falciparum and the diagnosis of P. vivax mono-infection was established by peripheral blood film and rapid diagnostic tests and confirmed by polymerase chain reaction. The possibility of other diseases/infections causing similar illness were investigated thoroughly.

Results: Thirteen children with P. vivax cerebral malaria were studied, eight of whom (61·5%) had multi-organ (two or more organs) dysfunction. Other associated severe manifestations included severe anaemia (7), hepatic dysfunction (2), renal dysfunction (2), bleeding manifestation (2), respiratory distress (2), metabolic acidosis (2) and shock (one). Hypoglycaemia was not observed in any patient. There was no evidence of neurological sequelae. All the children were managed according to WHO guidelines using intravenous artisunate. Thrombocytopenia was detected in five and hyponatraemia in four children.

Conclusion: P. vivax mono-infection can cause cerebral malaria and multi-organ dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • DNA, Protozoan / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Malaria, Cerebral / pathology*
  • Malaria, Vivax / complications*
  • Malaria, Vivax / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy
  • Parasitemia / diagnosis
  • Parasitemia / parasitology
  • Plasmodium vivax / genetics
  • Plasmodium vivax / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prospective Studies


  • DNA, Protozoan