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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Parasitology Case Studies: Protozoa in Blood (by ASCLS). Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Diagnosis of Malaria

CDC/ Steven Glenn, Laboratory & Consultation Division

  • Only truly STAT parasitology procedure--extremely important to diagnose rapidly
  • Gold standard is a thick and thin blood smear stained with Giemsa
    • 100 oil fields should be examined on thick smears and 300 oil fields on thin smears before reporting as negative
  • Rapid diagnostic tests are antigen cassette or dipstick that can test for P. falciparum or P. falciparum and other malarial parasites
    • Only one approved in the U.S. but many approved by WHO for endemic areas
    • Can give a result in 10-15 minutes
    • Only test performed in resource deprived areas
  • Molecular tests (PCR) but not quick enough or widely available enough for rapid diagnosis
    • 18s rRNA sequences are detected by real time polymerase chain reaction
    • Useful for determining species, especially if not a human parasite (ie. simian)
    • Can detect patients with multiple species
  • Centers for Disease and Prevention(CDC) provides diagnostic services through its website