The Mooney Lab

The University of Edinburgh

Does Malaria Cause Diarrhoea? A Systematic Review

Journal article

Isatou C. M. Sey, A. Ehimiyein, A. Ehimiyein, C. Bottomley, E. Riley, Jason P Mooney
Frontiers in Medicine, 2020

Semantic Scholar DOI PubMedCentral PubMed


APA   Click to copy
Sey, I. C. M., Ehimiyein, A., Ehimiyein, A., Bottomley, C., Riley, E., & Mooney, J. P. (2020). Does Malaria Cause Diarrhoea? A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Medicine.

Chicago/Turabian   Click to copy
Sey, Isatou C. M., A. Ehimiyein, A. Ehimiyein, C. Bottomley, E. Riley, and Jason P Mooney. “Does Malaria Cause Diarrhoea? A Systematic Review.” Frontiers in Medicine (2020).

MLA   Click to copy
Sey, Isatou C. M., et al. “Does Malaria Cause Diarrhoea? A Systematic Review.” Frontiers in Medicine, 2020.

BibTeX   Click to copy

  title = {Does Malaria Cause Diarrhoea? A Systematic Review},
  year = {2020},
  journal = {Frontiers in Medicine},
  author = {Sey, Isatou C. M. and Ehimiyein, A. and Ehimiyein, A. and Bottomley, C. and Riley, E. and Mooney, Jason P}


Malaria is a systemic febrile disease that may progress to prostration, respiratory distress, encephalopathy, anemia, and death. Malaria is also an established risk factor for invasive bacterial disease caused, in the majority of cases, by invasive enteropathogens and in particular by non-Typhoidal Salmonella (NTS). Whilst various malaria-related pathologies have been implicated in the risk of NTS bacteraemia in animal models, including intestinal dysbiosis and loss of gut homeostasis, clinical evidence is lacking. As a first step in gathering such evidence, we conducted a systematic review of clinical and epidemiological studies reporting the prevalence of diarrhoea among malaria cases and vice versa. Database searches for “plasmodium” and “diarrhoea” identified 1,771 articles; a search for “plasmodium” and “gastroenteritis” identified a further 215 articles. After review, 66 articles specified an association between the search terms and referred primarily, but not exclusively, to Plasmodium falciparum infections. Overall, between 1.6 and 44% of patients with acute malaria infection reported symptoms of diarrhoea (812 of 7,267 individuals, 11%) whereas 5–42% of patients presenting to hospital with diarrhoea had an underlying malaria parasite infection (totaling 749 of 2,937 individuals, 26%). However, given the broad range of estimates, a paucity of purposeful case control or longitudinal studies, and varied or poorly specified definitions of diarrhoea, the literature provides limited evidence to draw any firm conclusions. The relationship between malaria and gastrointestinal disturbance thus remains unclear. Carefully designed case-control studies and prospective longitudinal studies are required to confidently assess the prevalence and significance of intestinal manifestations of malaria parasite infection.


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