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Emerg Infect Dis. 2011 May;17(5):807-13. doi: 10.3201/eid1705.101527.

Severe imported Plasmodium falciparum malaria, France, 1996-2003.

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University Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.


Little is known about severe imported Plasmodium falciparum malaria in industrialized countries where the disease is not endemic because most studies have been case reports or have included <200 patients. To identify factors independently associated with the severity of P. falciparum, we conducted a retrospective study using surveillance data obtained from 21,888 P. falciparum patients in France during 1996-2003; 832 were classified as having severe malaria. The global case-fatality rate was 0.4% and the rate of severe malaria was ≈3.8%. Factors independently associated with severe imported P. falciparum malaria were older age, European origin, travel to eastern Africa, absence of chemoprophylaxis, initial visit to a general practitioner, time to diagnosis of 4 to 12 days, and diagnosis during the fall-winter season. Pretravel advice should take into account these factors and promote the use of antimalarial chemoprophylaxis for every traveler, with a particular focus on nonimmune travelers and elderly persons.

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