Background & objectives: Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) and Plasmodium vivax (Pv) are responsible for most of the global burden of malaria. With changing spectrum of clinical presentation in malaria, pulmonary system involvement has always been under diagnosed. The present study was planned to estimate the pulmonary system involvement in patients with malaria from north- western India (Bikaner). STUDY DESIGN & DESCRIPTION OF THE PATIENTS: Our study was conducted during 2007 to 2009 in 200 cases of severe malaria [Pf , Pv, and mixed (Pf + Pv)] with pulmonary involvement. It included adult patients of both sexes (145 males and 55 females) belonging to all age groups. The diagnosis of Pf and Pv was confirmed by demonstrating asexual form of parasites in peripheral blood smear and OptiMal test.
Main outcome measures: Pulmonary involvement was observed in 30% (60/200) patients among which cough in 24% , dyspnea in 12%, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in 7% , bronchitis in 3% and pneumonia in 1.5% were the major clinical manifestations of malaria. Metabolic acidosis and low oxygen saturation was observed in 7% patients. Chest X- ray abnormality in 11.5% patients, 7% had bilateral infiltrates, 1.5% had inflammatory patch and 3% had findings suggestive of bronchitis. Spirometry findings showed 17% patients had early small airway obstruction. All the patients with ARDS had poor disease outcome.
Results & conclusion: Our results suggest that pulmonary system involvement was observed in patients infected with Pf and Pv. If these clinical presentations are ignored, it may lead to delay in diagnosis and can alter the outcome and prognosis of the disease. Therefore, early diagnosis of malaria induced ARDS can significantly affect the outcome.