Malaria, a major public health problem worldwide, is a predominant infectious disease in most tropical and subtropical countries. Before 1965, Taiwan was a hyperendemic area, but most cases are now imported. We present our experience of dealing with various malaria infections. Charts of malaria patients visiting university hospitals in southern Taiwan between January 1991 and June 2002 were available for review. All diagnoses were made by positive blood smear and detailed history that included countries visited, paroxysm of symptoms, and medical treatment. Seventeen patients, 6 women and 11 men (mean age, 32.3 ± 11.8 years), were enrolled. Six were infected with Plasmodium falciparum, eight with Plasmodium vivax, two with a combination of P. falciparum and P. vivax, and one with an unidentified infection. All Taiwanese patients infected with P. falciparum (n = 5) contracted the disease in Africa or Indonesia. All Taiwanese patients infected with P. vivax (n = 4) contracted the disease in Southeast Asia or Oceania. Fever and chills were the leading symptoms of malaria. P. falciparum infection was treated with quinine and doxycycline/tetracycline, with the addition of artesunate for cerebral malaria. P. vivax infection was treated with chloroquine and primaquine. Maintaining a high degree of suspicion in patients with a history of travel to malaria-endemic areas is the major cornerstone of malaria diagnosis. Erroneous diagnosis and improper treatment leads to greater morbidity and even mortality.
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