An etiologic study of hemoglobinuria and blackwater fever in the Kivu mountains, Zaire

C Delacollette, H Taelman, M Wéry

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


    Between January 1985 and March 1986, in the high altitude area of Kivu, Eastern Zaire, 38 patients presenting with hemoglobinuria as main manifestation were investigated. Profound glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency was detected in 4 patients, leptospirosis in 2 and Hantaan virus infection in 2. Hemolysis was doubtful (haptoglobin > 40 mg/dl, Hemoglobin > 12 g/dl) in 2 patients. Other potential causes of hemoglobinuria such as hemoglobinopathy, toxic agents, infectious diseases or blood transfusion incompatibility were carefully screened and excluded. The syndrome observed in the remaining 28 cases was strongly suggestive of blackwater fever (BWF) as described in malaria patients by several authors under the french name 'fievre bilieuse hemoglobinurique'. Quinine was used as curative treatment of malaria before admission in a significant greater proportion (p < 0.01) of patients with BWF compared to patients with uncomplicated malaria, suggesting that this drug might have played a triggering role in the genesis of BWF. However, quinine was usually administered at inadequate doses to malaria patients non responding to chloroquine and belonging to a population of whom 50% are non immune. It may thus also be hypothesized that BWF in our patients could result from a hyperparasitemic state that remained undetected because of an unusual synchronous lysis of infected erythrocytes. In the latter case BWF would correspond to a major complication of falciparum malaria only coincidentally related to the use of quinine
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAnnales de la Société Belge de Médecine Tropicale
    Pages (from-to)51-63
    Publication statusPublished - 1995


    • B780-tropical-medicine
    • Protozoal diseases
    • Malaria
    • Hemoglobinuria
    • Blackwater fever
    • Etiology
    • Quinine
    • High altitude
    • Congo-Kinshasa
    • Kivu
    • Africa-Central


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