Pediatric Malaria Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Jun 03, 2020
  • Author: Parang N Mehta, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Severe and complicated malaria can be rapidly fatal, and wasting time is dangerous. Prompt diagnosis and immediate treatment with a drug known to be effective in the area where the malaria was acquired can be lifesaving. The presentation is varied and may suggest other conditions, such as meningitis, encephalitis, or epilepsy. Thus, cerebral malaria, and other forms of severe malaria, should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a febrile neurologic or other serious illness if a history of residence or travel through a malarious area exists.

Conditions to consider in the differential diagnosis of malaria include the following:

  • Ascending cholangitis

  • Enteric fever

  • Encephalitis

  • Heatstroke

  • Hepatitis

  • Lobar pneumonia

  • Pharyngitis

  • Viral pneumonia

  • Tonsillitis

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

  • Bacteremia

  • Salmonella infection

  • Sinusitis

  • Tetanus

  • Giardiasis

  • Aseptic meningitis

  • Bacterial meningitis

  • Otitis media

  • Yellow fever

Differential Diagnoses