The clinical manifestations of severe malaria are several and occur in different anatomical sites. Both parasite- and host-related factors contribute to the pathogenicity of the severe forms of the disease. Cytoadherence of infected red blood cells to the vascular endothelium of different organs and rosetting are unique features of malaria parasites which are likely to contribute to the vascular damage and the consequent excessive inflammatory/immune response of the host. In addition to cerebral malaria or severe anaemia, which are quite common manifestation of severe malaria, clinical evidences of thrombocytopenia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), liver and kidney disease, are reported. In primigravidae from endemic areas, life threatening placental malaria may also be present.
In the following pages, some of the pathogenetic aspects will be briefly reviewed and then data on selected and less frequent manifestation of severe malaria, such as liver or renal failure or ARDS will be discussed