Melanesian offspring prove less susceptible to malaria

April 21, 2014 by Jessica Theunissen
“Severe malaria is not one clinical syndrome. Kids can present in a whole lot of different ways,” Dr Manning says. Credit: Austronesian Expeditions

Melanesian children have lower fatality rates due to severe malaria than children in other geographic regions, according to UWA researchers.

A recent study has examined the differences between Melanesian (a subregion of Oceania), African and Asian cases of childhood in terms of clinical features and outcome.

UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology Associate Professor and co-author Dr Laurens Manning says the study is the first global meta-analysis of its kind.

Previous observational studies indicated that malaria mortality is lower in Melanesia but that this is the first to test that theory within a formal framework, he says.

The researchers compared 65 different international studies.

Results showed that Melanesian children had lower rates of hypoglycaemia, lower fatality rates and lower -associated fatality rates compared with African children.

Lower rates of hypoglycaemia in Melanesian children may be one possible explanation, the researchers say.

"Children with hypoglycaemia have extremely high ," Dr Manning says.

"The rate of kids presenting with hypoglycaemia is extremely low in Melanesia as compared with Africa and Asia," he says.

Another possible explanation is that concomitant bacteremia, particularly non-typhoidal salmonellae, occurs more frequently in African with severe malaria and this is an independent risk factor for mortality.

Other factors such as availability of effective antimalarial therapy, immunological cross-protection from exposure to Plasmodium vivax and a high prevalence of protective genetic polymorphisms may also be contributed to regional differences.

"Severe malaria is not one clinical syndrome. Kids can present in a whole lot of different ways," Dr Manning says.

This can include being in a comatose state, having severe anaemia, hypoglycaemia, jaundice, renal failure and other conditions.

Whilst there is good evidence that fatality rates due to and metabolic acidosis are declining, there is a lack of change in due to cerebral malaria, the researchers say.

Previous studies have found that overall the rate of malaria mortality cases are declining, he says.

"[But] you can't translate that to say that if you're a child presenting with malaria in Africa that you're going to be treated better."

Declining global malaria mortality rates do not necessarily equate to better inpatient management of , he says.

The same principle applies to different clinical conditions, he says.

"If you present with a [malaria-induced] coma there is no difference in the mortality rates between 1985 and 2010."

Explore further: Elderly are almost 10 times more likely to die of malaria than younger tourists

More information: Manning L, Laman M, Davis WA, Davis TME (2014) "Clinical Features and Outcome in Children with Severe Plasmodium falciparum Malaria: A Meta-Analysis." PLoS ONE 9(2): e86737. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086737

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Monkey study shows Zika infection prolonged in pregnancy

June 28, 2016

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers studying monkeys have shown that one infection with Zika virus protects against future infection, though pregnancy may drastically prolong the time the virus stays in the body.

Teaching an old drug new tricks to fight cytomegalovirus

June 27, 2016

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that an old drug once mostly used to treat amebiasis—a disease caused by a parasite—and induce vomiting in cases of poisoning appears to also halt replication of cytomegalovirus ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.