7.2 Parasitological diagnosis of malaria
If you suspect that a patient may have malaria, you will need to confirm the clinical diagnosis using specific tests to identify the presence of the malaria parasite or its products in the blood. This process is called parasitological or parasite-based diagnosis. In areas with a risk of malaria, or in patients who have travelled back from malaria-endemic areas, fever should be enough to make you suspect malaria and do a confirmatory test. The parasitological diagnosis of malaria can be divided into microscopic and non-microscopic tests. Microscopic tests involve the use of a microscope to see the parasite in the blood of a patient. At health post level you will not be able to carry out microscope tests, but they will be discussed briefly in Section 7.2.3. First we describe the non-microscopic tests, also known as rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs).