[Evaluation of imported Plasmodium falciparum malaria cases: the use of polymerase chain reaction in diagnosis]

Mikrobiyol Bul. 2013 Oct;47(4):668-76. doi: 10.5578/mb.6249.
[Article in Turkish]


Malaria affecting almost half of the world population continues to be an important health problem. Although domestic malaria cases have been decreasing in Turkey recently, cases caused by Plasmodium falciparum have increased due to the frequent travelling to Africa. The aims of this study were to evaluate demographic characteristics, clinical and laboratory findings in cases with falciparum malaria who attended to our clinic in 2012-2013 period, and the impact of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for diagnosis. Nine patients evaluated were all male with a mean age of 34.3 (age range: 18-48) years, with the history of travel to Africa. Six cases did not take prophylaxis against malaria and other three cases used insufficient time. Mean duration of symptoms after return was 18.4 (range: 1-75) days, and the patients were admitted to the clinic within a mean of 5.2 (range: 1-15) days. Two patients had leucopenia, two patients had anemia, and eight patients had thrombocytopenia on admission. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in four cases and total bilirubin levels of six cases were over upper normal limits. Definitive diagnosis of cases was performed with the detection of ring and/or gametocytes forms of the parasite in Giemsa-stained peripheral blood smears. Furthermore, samples from seven patients were studied by nested PCR by using genus (Plasmodium rPLU 1 and 5) and species (rFAL 1 and 2, rVIV 1 and 2, rMAL 1 and 2, rOVA 1 and 2) specific primers. All of these seven samples yielded positive results with primers specific for P.falciparum ssrRNA. In the treatment, arthemeter/lumefantrin and doxycycline combination was used in seven patients, while intravenous artesunate and doxycycline combination was given to two patients, resulting with complete cure. Mean duration for the resolving of fever was 3.3 days, and mean duration for clearing the parasitemia from peripheral blood was 4.9 days. Initial ALT values and the duration of fever resolution (-796; p= 0.010), as well as the duration of parasitemia and initial thrombocyte counts (-797; p= 0.010) were negatively- correlated. It was concluded that, providing sufficient information on malaria and prophylaxis to people travelling to the endemic areas are crutial for protection. Moreover, in endemic areas for Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, patients with fever and thrombocytopenia should be questioned in detail about the travel history, and peripheral blood smears should be examined in terms of malaria, since their clinical features are similar. Plasmodium PCR should be considered as one of the alternative diagnostic method in malaria, especially in cases with inconclusive microscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Artemether, Lumefantrine Drug Combination
  • Artemisinins / therapeutic use
  • Artesunate
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Drug Combinations
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Ethanolamines / therapeutic use
  • Fluorenes / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / diagnosis*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / drug therapy
  • Malaria, Falciparum / epidemiology
  • Malaria, Falciparum / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / isolation & purification*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / standards*
  • Travel
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Antimalarials
  • Artemether, Lumefantrine Drug Combination
  • Artemisinins
  • Drug Combinations
  • Ethanolamines
  • Fluorenes
  • Artesunate
  • Doxycycline