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Severe stridor and profound weakness after cerebral malaria


Cerebral malaria (CM) is defined by WHO as coma (Blantyre Coma Score 2 or less) in a patient with Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia and no alternative cause of coma identified. Mortality is approximately 15%–30% in African children and up to one-third of survivors have neurological sequelae. We present a patient with severe stridor and prolonged profound weakness during an intensive care admission with CM. These complications initially presented a diagnostic dilemma in our limited resourced setting. The stridor failed to improve with empiric steroids and a subsequent opportunistic ENT consult diagnosed vocal cord paresis. The weakness was so profound that the patient was unable to lift his head during the acute illness. The child received intensive physiotherapy, and at 1-month follow-up, the stridor and weakness had resolved.

  • global health
  • tropical medicine (infectious disease)
  • paediatric intensive care

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