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Hum Pathol. 2007 Mar;38(3):520-3. Epub 2007 Jan 19.

An unusual presentation of placental malaria: a single persisting nidus of sequestered parasites.

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  • 1Mother-Offspring Malaria Studies Project, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle WA 98109, USA.


Placental malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is a public health concern in tropical countries. Peripheral blood smears to detect placental malaria are often negative, and recrudescences are common during pregnancy. We performed placental histology on a series of first-time mothers delivering in an area endemic for P falciparum. A single nidus of malaria-infected erythrocytes was identified by placental histology in a single intervillous space from a woman who had no other evidence of peripheral or placental blood parasitemia. This finding suggests ring stage-infected erythrocytes sequester in vivo, or P falciparum can persist as a dormant blood stage form.

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