A study by Terrie Taylor and colleagues in the February issue of Nature Medicine has new implications for diagnosing cerebral malaria.
Cerebral malaria is a severe, sometimes fatal, form of malaria affecting the brain; it occurs when malaria-infected red blood cells clog blood vessels in the b rain--a process called sequestration. Malaria-infected individuals that become comatose are diagnosed with cerebral malaria if their coma cannot be explained by meningitis, convulsions or hypoglycemia.
Taylor and colleagues looked at the brains of 31 children who were thought to have died from cerebral malaria and, surprisingly, found no evidence of parasite sequestration in more than 20% of the patients--meaning they had actually died of other causes.
The authors found that the only way to distinguish 'real' cerebral malaria from nonmalarial coma in the clinic--without doing an autopsy--is to examine the patient for an eye disorder called retinopathy. These findings, suggest the authors, will be important for correctly identifying cerebral malaria patients for future clinical trials.
Terrie E. Taylor
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Tel: +1 517 353 3211
Also available online.
(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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