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JAMA. 2007 May 23;297(20):2264-77.

Treatment of malaria in the United States: a systematic review.

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  • 1Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne and Enteric Diseases, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga 30341, USA.



Many US clinicians and laboratory personnel are unfamiliar with the diagnosis and treatment of malaria.


To examine the evidence base for management of uncomplicated and severe malaria and to provide clinicians with practical recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of malaria in the United States.


Systematic MEDLINE search from 1966 to 2006 using the search term malaria (with the subheadings congenital, diagnosis, drug therapy, epidemiology, and therapy). Additional references were obtained from searching the bibliographies of pertinent articles and by reviewing articles suggested by experts in the treatment of malaria in North America.


Important measures to reduce morbidity and mortality from malaria in the United States include the following: obtaining a travel history, considering malaria in the differential diagnosis of fever based on the travel history, and prompt and accurate diagnosis and treatment. Chloroquine remains the treatment of choice for Plasmodium falciparum acquired in areas without chloroquine-resistant strains. In areas with chloroquine resistance, a combination of atovaquone and proguanil or quinine plus tetracycline or doxycycline or clindamycin are the best treatment options. Chloroquine remains the treatment of choice for all other malaria species, with the exception of P vivax acquired in Indonesia or Papua New Guinea, in which case atovaquone-proguanil is best, with mefloquine or quinine plus tetracycline or doxycycline as alternatives. Quinidine is currently the recommended treatment for severe malaria in the United States because the artemisinins are not yet available. Severe malaria occurs when a patient with asexual malaria parasitemia, and no other confirmed cause of symptoms, has 1 or more designated clinical or laboratory findings. The only adjunctive measure recommended in severe malaria is exchange transfusion.


Malaria remains a diagnostic and treatment challenge for US clinicians as increasing numbers of persons travel to and emigrate from malarious areas. A strong evidence base exists to help clinicians rapidly initiate appropriate therapy and minimize the major mortality and morbidity burdens caused by this disease.

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