Volume 99, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



It has been believed that concomitant bacteremia is uncommon in adults hospitalized with falciparum malaria. Accordingly, the World Health Organization treatment guidelines presently only recommended additional antibacterial therapy in these patients if they have a clinical syndrome compatible with serious bacterial infection. Admission blood cultures were collected from 20 consecutive adults in Myanmar, hospitalized with a positive immunochromatographic test and blood film, suggesting a diagnosis of falciparum malaria; four (20%) had bacteremia with a clinically significant pathogen. These case series’ data were pooled with a previously published multicenter study from Myanmar which had also collected blood cultures in adults hospitalized with a diagnosis of falciparum malaria. Among 87 patients in the two studies, 13 (15%) had clinically significant bacteremia on admission, with Gram-negative organisms in 10 (77%) and in the remaining three (23%). Bacteremic patients had more severe disease than non-bacteremic patients (median [interquartile range] respiratory coma acidosis malaria score 2 [1–4] versus 1 [1–2], = 0.02) and were more likely to die (2/13 [15%] versus 1/74 [1%], = 0.01). However, bacterial coinfection was suspected clinically in a minority of bacteremic patients (5/13 [38%] compared with 13/70 [19%] of non-bacteremic patients, = 0.11). Concomitant bacteremia in adults diagnosed with falciparum malaria may be more common than previously believed and is difficult to identify clinically in resource-poor settings. Death is more common in these patients, suggesting that clinicians should have a lower threshold for commencing empirical antibacterial therapy in adults diagnosed with falciparum malaria in these locations than is presently recommended.


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Supplemental table

  • Received : 02 May 2018
  • Accepted : 17 Jun 2018
  • Published online : 16 Jul 2018

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