Bobbi Pritt, M.D., Director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory and Co-Director of Mayo’s Vector-Borne Diseases Laboratory Services, co-authored an article review in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology on an update on malaria diagnostics and test utilization.
According to the article, malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease requiring rapid diagnosis and treatment. Although microscopic examination of thick and thin blood films remains the gold standard for laboratory diagnosis, rapid antigen tests and nucleic acid amplification methods may also play a useful role for detection of acute infection. This review discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the commonly used diagnostic methods and provides important practice points for optimal malaria test utilization.
Based on the review, malaria "testing should be available continuously throughout the day and night on a STAT basis; laboratories that cannot provide definitive testing (i.e., blood film examination or molecular amplification methods) must provide options for rapid examination elsewhere or offer preliminary testing (e.g., RDT) with confirmatory testing shortly afterward (ideally within 8 hours)."