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N Engl J Med. 1989 Jul 13;321(2):65-70.

Treatment of severe malaria in the United States with a continuous infusion of quinidine gluconate and exchange transfusion.

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  • 1Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta.


During the past decade the incidence of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in the United States has increased 10-fold. Treatment may be delayed because the therapy recommended for severe or complicated disease, intravenous quinine dihydrochloride, is available only from the Centers for Disease Control. We studied 17 patients who were treated for severe or complicated P. falciparum malaria in the United States between 1985 and 1987. Five patients were treated with a continuous infusion of quinidine gluconate, 10 with an exchange transfusion in addition to the continuous infusion of quinidine gluconate, and 2 with intermittently administered intravenous quinine dihydrochloride and an exchange transfusion. All 16 patients with P. falciparum malaria (1 patient had P. vivax malaria) had hyperparasitemia at the time of diagnosis (6 to 54 percent of the erythrocytes infected; median, 13 percent). Three patients with marked hyperparasitemia (54, 38, and 30 percent) and multiple other indicators of a poor prognosis, including advanced age, died. The 13 patients who completed their courses of quinidine with or without exchange transfusion had a parasitemia level of 1.1 percent or less 28 to 72 hours (mean, 44.4 hours) after the start of therapy. Side effects of quinidine treatment were observed in only two patients, one of whom had a serum quinidine concentration above the toxic level. We conclude that the continuous infusion of quinidine gluconate is well tolerated alone and with exchange transfusion and is effective in the treatment of severe and complicated malaria.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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