View an illustration about the life cycle of the malaria parasite.
Healthcare providers should suspect malaria in anyone who has been in the tropics recently, who received a blood transfusion, and who develops a fever and other signs that resemble the flu. They examine blood smears taken from a finger prick under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. A "thick" smear makes it possible to examine a large amount of blood. Then, the species of parasite can be identified by looking at a corresponding "thin" smear. Because mixed infections are possible, these techniques are important for deciding the best treatment. For example, a person can be infected with Plasmodium vivax as well as the more dangerous P. falciparum.
Last Updated April 08, 2008
Last Reviewed April 08, 2008