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Open Access Case report

Severe falciparum malaria with dengue coinfection complicated by rhabdomyolysis and acute kidney injury: an unusual case with myoglobinemia, myoglobinuria but normal serum creatine kinase

Kok Pin Yong, Ban Hock Tan and Chian Yong Low*

Author Affiliations

Department of Infectious Diseases, Singapore General Hospital, Outram Road, Singapore, 169608, Singapore

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2012, 12:364  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-364

Published: 20 December 2012



Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a complication of severe malaria, and rhabdomyolysis with myoglobinuria is an uncommon cause. We report an unusual case of severe falciparum malaria with dengue coinfection complicated by AKI due to myoglobinemia and myoglobinuria while maintaining a normal creatine kinase (CK).

Case presentation

A 49-year old Indonesian man presented with fever, chills, and rigors with generalized myalgia and was diagnosed with falciparum malaria based on a positive blood smear. This was complicated by rhabdomyolysis with raised serum and urine myoglobin but normal CK. Despite rapid clearance of the parasitemia with intravenous artesunate and aggressive hydration maintaining good urine output, his myoglobinuria and acidosis worsened, progressing to uremia requiring renal replacement therapy. High-flux hemodiafiltration effectively cleared his serum and urine myoglobin with recovery of renal function. Further evaluation revealed evidence of dengue coinfection and past infection with murine typhus.


In patients with severe falciparum malaria, the absence of raised CK alone does not exclude a diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis. Raised serum and urine myoglobin levels could lead to AKI and should be monitored. In the event of myoglobin-induced AKI requiring dialysis, clinicians may consider using high-flux hemodiafiltration instead of conventional hemodialysis for more effective myoglobin removal. In Southeast Asia, potential endemic coinfections that can also cause or worsen rhabdomyolysis, such as dengue, rickettsiosis and leptospirosis, should be considered.

Falciparum malaria; Rhabdomyolysis; Myoglobinuria; Acute kidney injury