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Part 2: Diagnosis of Malaria

I'm not feeling well. What now? - Diagnosis of suspected malaria

As you learned in the last post, the symptoms of #Malaria can be very diverse and should therefore be clarified diagnostically. If malaria is suspected, the blood is examined. For our team in #Rulenge, going to the next #Labor is already something ordinary. Cleophasi, our pharmacist, falls ill with malaria almost every four months, her children even more frequently.

Microscopic examination is the easiest and most cost-effective way to diagnose malaria. Here, an air-dried drop of blood (so-called thick drop) or a thin blood smear (so-called Giemsa staining) is examined for #Pathogens (plasmodia). If pathogens are found in the blood, then malaria is usually present. The more pathogens there are in the drops of blood, the more serious the disease.

Like everywhere else, there are exceptions. It may happen that a patient living in a malaria area such as #Tanzania is partially immune and only carries the pathogen. In addition, malaria is 100 percent not excluded if no pathogen can be found, as initially the number of plasmodia in the blood is even lower. Therefore, the test should be repeated daily if a disease is suspected and the test was negative.

Another form of #Diagnostic is antigen detection (RDT=rapid diagnostic test). The rapid test can detect parasite-specific antigens in the blood. The advantage of antigen detection is that it can be easily performed as a self-test by any person. The disadvantage is that it is not possible to determine the type of malaria. In addition, it may happen that the rapid test incorrectly displays a negative result. This means that in the case of a suspected malaria and a negative rapid test, a microscopic examination should still follow. If the rapid test is positive, then the malaria diagnosis is confirmed. In Tanzania, the rapid test costs about 2000 TZS (about 0.80 €).

A little info on the side: There are also malaria PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and serological examination methods. However, both are not suitable for confirming an acute suspicion of malaria.

Have a look at our interview with the clincian:


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