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The physiological changes that can occur in the retinas of patients with cerebral malaria may provide a useful approach to diagnosis.

Apr 30, 2018
The Scientist Staff, The Scientist Staff

Severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria infections can often be diagnosed by examining a patient’s retina because the disease can cause changes in the blood vessels and the retina’s color. The prognostic significance of this outcome was not clear until recently, however. Researchers reported last month (March 26) in eLife that certain changes in the retina’s fovea—namely, foveal whitening and orange, defective blood vessels—are strongly associated with death in patients with cerebral malaria. The findings may provide a useful marker for diagnosing severe infections, the researchers write.

V. Berrera et al., “Neurovascular sequestration in paediatric P. falciparum malaria is visible clinically in the retina,” eLife, doi:10.7554/eLife.32208, 2018.

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