Malaria is caused primarily by 4 species of the protozoa Plasmodium: Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium ovale. A fifth Plasmodium species, Plasmodium knowlesi, is a similar parasite that may be an important source of human infection in some regions of Southeast Asia. Differentiating Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium knowlesi from other species is important since both can cause life-threatening infections. Blood smears are the most reliable tests for malaria. You may want to ask whether a thick or thin blood smear, or both, is planned. A thin blood smear will identify the species of the malaria parasite.
Also known as: Rapid Malarial Parasites Smear.