Background: Plasmodium falciparum malaria (P.f. malaria) is frequently imported to non-endemic countries. Recommendations on outpatient treatment differ largely due to differences in country-level guidelines and even between tropical medicine referral centres within the same country.
Methods: This survey among experts from TropNet or GeoSentinel referral centres for tropical medicine outside malaria endemic areas investigated common practices in P.f. malaria management, selection criteria for outpatient management and diagnostic procedures as a first step for developing a future common and evidence-based approach.
Results: A total of 44 referral centres participated. Most of the centres are located in Europe (n = 37). Overall, 27 centres (61%) treat uncomplicated P.f. malaria patients as outpatients, of which eight centres (18%) reported treating >= 75% of patients on an outpatient basis. Seventeen centres (39%) reported treating patients only as inpatients. No single criterion stands out for the decision regarding outpatient treatment, but three groups of factors were identified: (i) clinical criteria including laboratory parameters, clinical condition and tolerance of oral medication; (ii) factors such as patient compliance, reachability by phone and support at home and (iii) patient origin and place of residence as a proxy for possible underlying semi-immunity. The threshold parasitaemia for outpatient treatment varied from 0.1 to 5% with a median of 2%. A median of 0.5% of outpatients were admitted during follow-up. During the last 10 years, 33 complications were reported by nine of the 27 centres and three deaths by one centre.
Conclusion: This study gives insight into the heterogeneous management of P.f. malaria patients outside endemic regions. Although there is no consensus among experts, the majority of centres includes outpatient treatment in their clinical routine. However, the lack of evidence-based criteria and established safety for this approach shows the need for prospective studies to define and evaluate criteria and practices for safe outpatient management.
- Plasmodium falciparum
- sentinel surveillance