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Case report of Plasmodium ovale curtisi malaria in Sri Lanka: Relevance for the maintenance of elimination status

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Abstract

Background: Following its recent certification as malaria-free, imported infections now pose the greatest threat for maintaining this status in Sri Lanka. Imported infections may also introduce species that are uncommon or not previously endemic to these areas. We highlight in this case report the increasing importance of less common malaria species such as Plasmodium ovale in elimination settings and discuss its relevance for the risk of malaria resurgence in the country. Case presentation: A 41-year-old patient from southern Sri Lanka was diagnosed with malaria after 8 days of fever. Microscopy of blood smears revealed parasites morphologically similar to P. vivax and the rapid diagnostic test was indicative of non-P. falciparum malaria. He was treated with chloroquine over 3 days and primaquine for 14 days. He was negative for malaria at a one-year follow-up. Molecular testing performed subsequently confirmed that infection was caused by P. ovale curtisi. The patient gave a history of P. vivax malaria treated with chloroquine and primaquine. He also provided a history of travel to malaria endemic regions, including residing in Liberia from May 2012 to November 2013, throughout which he was on weekly malaria prophylaxis with mefloquine. He had also visited India on an eight-day Buddhist pilgrimage tour in September 2014 without malaria prophylaxis. Conclusions: It is crucial that every case of malaria is investigated thoroughly and necessary measures taken to prevent re-introduction of malaria. Accurate molecular diagnostic techniques need to be established in Sri Lanka for the screening and diagnosis of all species of human malaria infections, especially those that may occur with low parasitemia and are likely to be undetected using the standard techniques currently in use. In addition, ascertaining whether an infection occurred through local transmission or by importation is critical in the implementation of an effective plan of action in the country. This new era emphasizes the global nature of regional malaria elimination. Increasing global surveillance and tool development are necessary in order to "fingerprint" parasites and identify their origin.

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Gunawardena, S., Daniels, R. F., Yahathugoda, T. C., Weerasooriya, M. V., Durfee, K., Volkman, S. K., … Karunaweera, N. D. (2017). Case report of Plasmodium ovale curtisi malaria in Sri Lanka: Relevance for the maintenance of elimination status. BMC Infectious Diseases, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-017-2411-z

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