Clinical management of Plasmodium knowlesi malaria

Bridget E. Barber, Matthew J. Grigg, Daniel J. Cooper, Donelly A. van Schalkwyk, Timothy William, Giri S. Rajahram, Nicholas M. Anstey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The zoonotic parasite Plasmodium knowlesi has emerged as an important cause of human malaria in parts of Southeast Asia. The parasite is indistinguishable by microscopy from the more benign P. malariae, but can result in high parasitaemias with multiorgan failure, and deaths have been reported. Recognition of severe knowlesi malaria, and prompt initiation of effective therapy is therefore essential to prevent adverse outcomes. Here we review all studies reporting treatment of uncomplicated and severe knowlesi malaria. We report that although chloroquine is effective for the treatment of uncomplicated knowlesi malaria, artemisinin combination treatment is associated with faster parasite clearance times and lower rates of anaemia during follow-up, and should be considered the treatment of choice, particularly given the risk of administering chloroquine to drug-resistant P. vivax or P. falciparum misdiagnosed as P. knowlesi malaria in co-endemic areas. For severe knowlesi malaria, intravenous artesunate has been shown to be highly effective and associated with reduced case-fatality rates, and should be commenced without delay. Regular paracetamol may also be considered for patients with severe knowlesi malaria or for those with acute kidney injury, to attenuate the renal damage resulting from haemolysis-induced lipid peroxidation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Parasitology
EditorsChris Drakeley
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780323907286
ISBN (Print)9780323907279
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Parasitology
ISSN (Print)0065-308X


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