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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 25-30

Challenges in diagnosis of Plasmodium knowlesi infections

1 Department of Microbiology, Velammal Medical College Hospital and Research Institute, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Microbiology, JIPMER, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Subhash Chandra Parija
Senior Professor, Department of Microbiology, JIPMER, Puducherry 605 006
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2229-5070.129156

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Plasmodium knowlesi is the fifth species of Plasmodium recently identified to cause human malaria. Infections with P. knowlesi are currently being reported from South-East Asian countries and the incidence is on the rise with a possibility of spread to the geographically contiguous countries. P. knowlesi infections can result in a high degree of parasitemia causing severe malaria in a larger proportion of infected individuals. If detected early and treated with appropriate antimicrobials, these infections show a significant clinical improvement. The widely used microscopic methods usually misidentify P. knowlesi as the less pathogenic Plasmodium malariae leading to inadequate therapy and adverse clinical outcomes. The currently popular rapid immuno-chromatographic card tests have a very low sensitivity in diagnosing knowlesi malaria and can erroneously report P. knowlesi as other Plasmodia and vice-versa. At present molecular methods are the most efficacious in diagnosing P. knowlesi infections, but these tests can produce a false positive report in Plasmodium vivax infections and require expensive equipment and trained personnel. An ideal diagnostic test for P. knowlesi infections, which is potent, cost-effective and practically feasible in the resource limited setting is yet to be developed.

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