Malaria Alert (10 Dec 2020)

The current focus on COVID-19 has led to malaria being missed. Early symptoms of malaria and COVID-19 are similarly non-specific – fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint pains; more severe signs and symptoms also shared between these infections, e.g. respiratory difficulties, including ARDS.

Unrecognised and untreated malaria can rapidly progress to severe illness with a high mortality.

It is mandatory to check for malaria in all persons presenting with fever and flu-like illness if they are residents in, or have travelled within the last six weeks from a malaria-risk area. Check regardless of suspected COVID-19 condition (pending COVID-19 tests or even a positive COVID-19 test) using a rapid diagnostic test or blood smear microscopy, and obtain results urgently.

‘Taxi malaria’  should be considered in a patient with a progressively worsening febrile illness of unknown cause even if no travel history to a malaria-endemic area.

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