A Difficult Diagnosis of Plasmodium ovale Malaria

Ana Santos-Reis, Jaime Nina


Malaria is a major cause of suffering, disease, and death worldwide and is considered the most important of all human parasitic diseases. Malaria is still endemic in most tropical and sub-tropical areas and globalization has contributed to an increase of imported cases around the world. We report a Plasmodium ovale infection in a traveler with recent return from a long land trip across West Africa. He declared adherence to mefloquine chemoprophylaxis only at the start of the trip. Initially, he was seen at two different hospitals and in both he was screened for malaria by microscopy and rapid diagnostic test, but his diagnosis was not confirmed. The traveler was then diagnosed at our hospital with a malaria infection by Plasmodium ovale. Complete blood count showed mild anemia, but leukocytes and platelets were already normal. Symptoms resolved in 24 hours after treatment started. Microscopy of stained blood films remains the gold standard for malaria diagnosis, which is critically dependent on trained eyes. In non-endemic regions with few cases during the year, training programs in malaria microscopy are crucial. The aim is to prevent the reintroduction of malaria in Europe, reduce individual morbidity and suffering, and thus contribute towards reduction in deaths caused by this disease.


Europe; Malaria/diagnosis; Malaria/therapy; Plasmodium ovale; Portugal; Travel

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