Nosocomial Malaria Transmissions Resolved by Genomic Analyses-A Retrospective Case Report Study in France: 2007-2021

Clin Infect Dis. 2023 Feb 18;76(4):631-639. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciac813.


Background: Exposure of blood to malaria parasites can lead to infection even in the absence of the mosquito vector. During a stay in a healthcare facility, accidental inoculation of the skin with blood from a malaria patient might occur, referred to as nosocomial malaria.

Methods: Between 2007 and 2021, we identified 6 autochthonous malaria cases that occurred in different French hospitals, originating from nosocomial transmission and imported malaria cases being the infection source. Four cases were observed during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. The genetic relatedness between source and nosocomial infections was evaluated by genome-wide short tandem repeats (STRs) and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

Results: None of the patients with autochthonous malaria had travel history to an endemic area nor had been transfused. For each case, both the source and recipient patients stayed a few hours in the same ward. After diagnosis, autochthonous cases were treated with antimalarials and all recovered except 1. Genetically, each pair of matched source/nosocomial parasite infections showed <1% of different STRs and <6.9% (<1.5% for monoclonal infections) of different SNPs. Similar levels of genetic differences were obtained for parasite DNA samples that were independently sequenced twice as references of identical infections. Parasite phylogenomics were consistent with travel information reported by the source patients.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that genomics analyses may resolve nosocomial malaria transmissions, despite the uncertainty regarding the modes of contamination. Nosocomial transmission of potentially life-threatening parasites should be taken into consideration in settings or occasions where compliance with universal precautions is not rigorous.

Keywords: autochthonous; malaria; nosocomial; short tandem repeat; single-nucleotide polymorphism.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials* / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19*
  • Cross Infection* / drug therapy
  • France
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Malaria* / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Travel


  • Antimalarials