Milder malaria form may cause severe complications

A recent study conducted by the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Rajinder Nagar, Delhi, India, found that Plasmodium vivax, a parasite that causes milder malaria, may be causing severe complications in some patients.

The study determined that of 121 patients diagnosed with vivax malaria, three died of acute respiratory distress syndrome and others experienced liver problems, kidney damage and a drop in platelets known as thrombocytopenia. The study may show that the parasite is deadlier than previously thought, the Indian Express reports.

"P. vivax malaria, although considered to be a benign entity, can have a severe and complicated course, which is usually associated with P. falciparum malaria," the study said, according to the Indian Express.

Malaria is vector-borne disease caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes. P. falciparum is thought to cause the more aggressive form of malaria. The complications in the P. vivax study, however, were a surprise.

"It could be increased drug resistance or mutation or simply a matter of better understanding of the disease," Atul Gogia, the author of the study, said, according to the Indian Express. "It is difficult to identify a single cause, but it is clear that these patients need closer observation and should be admitted wherever there are indications of complications."

The study examined 105 men and 60 women admitted to the hospital between September 2008 and August 2009. A fall in platelets occurred in 68 percent of the patients and liver enzymes were elevated in 55 of the patients. The study found kidney problems in 21 of the patients studieds.