Queen Mary Hospital announces severe case of malaria

The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:
     The spokesperson for Queen Mary Hospital (QMH) today (April 3) made the following announcement regarding an imported and rare case of severe malaria:
     A 40-year-old female patient attended the Accident and Emergency Department (AED) of QMH last Wednesday (March 29) at noon for coughing, fever, sore throat and myalgia. Upon enquiry by the triage nurse on her travel history outside Hong Kong in the past 10 days, the patient had not disclosed any travel history. She was diagnosed as having upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). She was discharged home with prescribed URTI medication.
     The patient attended the AED again in the morning on April 1 for epigastric pain, vomiting and haematuria. Consultation by an AED doctor was arranged at 8.30am, and a blood test was also arranged. As the preliminary blood test report indicated deranged liver function, admission to the Medical Ward for further treatment was arranged. Upon further enquiry on medical history in the AED, the patient revealed that she had travelled to Ghana, Africa, from March 8 to 16.    
     The patient was transferred to the Medical Ward at around 12.30pm. The condition of the patient deteriorated rapidly in the afternoon and she became unconscious at 2.10pm. Immediate resuscitation and intubation were performed. The subsequent computer tomography brain scan showed cerebral oedema. The haematology result confirmed that the patient suffered from malaria. The patient was then transferred to the Adult Intensive Care Unit (AICU) and a microbiologist was consulted. An anti-malarial regimen was started at around 4.30pm.
     The patient is now hospitalised in the AICU in critical condition. QMH is highly concerned about this case and will continue to provide necessary medical treatment for the patient. As malaria is a notifiable infectious disease, reports have been made to the Hospital Authority Head Office and the Centre for Health Protection.
     The incubation period of malaria varies with different species of Plasmodium. This usually ranges from seven to 30 days but may be up to months or even longer after the bite of an infected Anopheline mosquito. Symptoms of malaria include intermittent fever, chills, sweating, headache, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain. Complications include anaemia, liver and kidney failure, as well as cerebral oedema, seizures, mental confusion and coma in severe cases.
     Malaria is commonly found in many parts of tropical and sub-tropical areas where the climate is warm, like Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. Before travelling to these areas, one should consult a doctor at least six weeks before the trip for preventive measures and obtain anti-malarial drugs for prophylaxis if necessary. During the visit abroad or after coming back to Hong Kong, if symptoms of malaria appear, one is suggested to seek medical advice immediately and disclose the traveling history proactively for prompt treatment.

Ends/Monday, April 3, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:07