Blood-stage dynamics and clinical implications of mixed Plasmodium vivax-Plasmodium falciparum infections.

D P MasonFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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F E McKenzieFaculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.

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We present a mathematical model of the blood-stage dynamics of mixed Plasmodium vivax-Plasmodium falciparum malaria infections in humans. The model reproduces features of such infections found in nature and suggests several phenomena that may merit clinical attention, including the potential recrudescence of a long-standing, low-level P. falciparum infection following a P. vivax infection or relapse and the capacity of an existing P. vivax infection to reduce the peak parasitemia of a P. falciparum superinfection. We simulate the administration of antimalarial drugs, and illustrate some potential complications in treating mixed-species malaria infections. Notably, our model indicates that when a mixed-species infection is misdiagnosed as a single-species P. vivax infection, treatment for P. vivax can lead to a surge in P. falciparum parasitemia.

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