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BackgroundAlthough platelet indices are routinely available using automated blood cell counters, the clinical applications of these parameters for malaria and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) have not been substantially implemented. We conducted this study to investigate the potential role of platelet indices as a prognostic marker in adult patients with Plasmodium vivax malaria, Plasmodium falciparum malaria, and DHF admitted to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Bangkok, Thailand.MethodsWe enrolled 219 eligible patients, comprising 96 with P. falciparum malaria, 71 with P. vivax malaria, and 52 with DHF. We evaluated the study groups' baseline clinical features and alterations of platelet indices during the first 4 days of admission.ResultsUpon admission, the initial laboratory findings showed no statistically significant difference in platelet count (PC), plateletcrit (PCT), or platelet distribution width (PDW) between patients with P. vivax and P. falciparum; however, mean platelet volume (MPV) was significantly higher in patients with P. falciparum. Comparisons of the initial platelet indices in malaria and DHF showed that only PC and PCT were significantly lower in DHF. Although MPV in DHF tended to be lower than in malaria, a statistically significant difference was observed only with P. falciparum. Moreover, the results also showed no significant alterations in the platelet indices among the study groups during the first 4 days of admission.Conclusions and recommendationsClinical presentations of DHF and malaria are nonspecific and may overlap with other common tropical diseases. Alterations of initial platelet indices may be investigated in P. vivax and P. falciparum malaria mimicking DHF. Although a significant reduction in PC and PCT in DHF might be a clue for differential diagnosis of malaria, the use of MPV and PDW might be impractical. We suggest that appropriate laboratory diagnoses for malaria and dengue infections are still needed for the differential diagnosis of acute febrile patients who have a risk of malaria or dengue infections. To clarify the clinical utility of platelet indices in patients with dengue and malaria, further studies are required that particularly include patients with different severities, geographical areas, and levels of health care settings.

Original publication




Journal article


Tropical medicine and health

Publication Date





Department of Clinical Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, 420/6 Ratchawithi Road, Bangkok, Thailand.