What is the role of blood smears in the workup of malaria?

Updated: Apr 26, 2019
  • Author: Thomas E Herchline, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

A diagnosis of malaria should be supported by the identification of the parasites on a thin or thick blood smear. In rare occasions, P falciparum infection can present without detectable parasitemia. If no alternative diagnosis is found in an at-risk patient with possible cerebral malaria (ie, unrevealing lumbar puncture findings), initiate therapy for presumptive malaria and continue to obtain additional blood smears to confirm the diagnosis.


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