When Epidemiology Is the Clue to a Positive Outcome: A Case of Malaria During Pregnancy
: BACKGROUND Malaria infection during pregnancy is associated with increased perinatal and maternal morbidity and mortality. CASE REPORT A 29-year-old primigravida at 37 weeks of gestation, with no significant medical history, presented complaining of fever, chills, and generalized body aches. She had been living in Malawi for 1 year and was on atovaquone/proguanil prophylaxis until she was found to be pregnant. Prophylaxis was changed to mefloquine and discontinued upon her return to the US. Six weeks prior to presentation, she traveled to Malawi for 1 month when she was off prophylaxis. On admission, vital signs and physical exam results were normal. Given epidemiologic findings, a malaria smear was performed and showed 4% parasitemia. She was treated with mefloquine and discharged. Two days after discharge, she again presented with fever, chills, and body aches. A malaria smear showed <0.01% parasitemia, with 2 ring forms. Serologies for dengue, chikungunya, leptospira, and blood cultures were negative. These symptoms were deemed secondary to early recrudescence. The species was later identified as P. falciparum. The patient was treated with quinine sulfate and clindamycin. She delivered at full term without complication. CONCLUSIONS Pregnant women are more susceptible to severe forms of malaria, such as P. falciparum. A high index of suspicion and early identification of malaria are vital to prevent deleterious outcomes.