a lab worker diagnosing a case of malaria

Diagnosing Malaria

Malaria is a parasitic disease that commonly comes from the bite of an infected mosquito. Malaria is most common in areas of the world such as Africa, South America and Asia. A traveler planning to visit these areas needs to take extra precautions to avoid infections. Vaccines, anti-malarial medications, and insect repellants are available to prepare a person for a trip to the aforementioned regions. Educating yourself on the symptoms and diagnostic procedures for malaria is also wise.


The symptoms of malaria vary from person to person. They also vary in their level of severity. A benign case of malaria does not yield symptoms that are quite as painful as those that arise from a malignant case. Malignant malaria symptoms can arise quickly and kill a person within a matter of days.

Some of the most common symptoms of malaria are fatigue, harsh coughing, abdominal pain, headache, chills, and diarrhea. A person may also develop a fever and sweats. Spleen enlargement occurs in the severe cases of the disease.


A person who develops symptoms of malaria will have to act quickly to get a diagnosis. Many other diseases have symptoms that are similar to those of malaria. A special doctor, such as an infectious disease specialist, will need to perform a series of tests that determine whether a person has malaria. Next, the doctor will have to create a strategy for the best way to treat the case of malaria. If an infectious disease specialist is not available, then the patient could go to a public hospital and express his or her malaria concerns to a general doctor.

A test for malaria frequently requires a blood smear. A blood smear involves extracting blood and then smearing it underneath a microscope lens. Malaria comes from a parasite that gets into the blood stream. Therefore, a doctor will have to perform a blood smear test to look for signs of parasites. The doctor will be looking for one of four main malaria-causing parasites: plasmodium vivax, plasmodium malariae, plasmodium ovale, or plasmodium falciparum.

A specialist may have to perform more than one test if he or she believes a patient is suffering from malaria. A caregiver will want to test for the presence of malaria every eight hours to ensure that the patient improves.


A doctor may use one or several treatments for malaria. Doxycycline is a powerful antibiotic that some doctors use to treat malaria. Anti-malarial drugs can also eliminate existence of the disease. Some common anti-malarial drugs are Bulaquine, Artesunate and Proguanil.

Last Updated: February 10, 2016