Malaria Smears

Sunquest Code:PSTN  
Epic Code:LAB3697Epic Name:Parasite Stain
Synonyms:Blood Smear for Malarial Parasites
Methodology:Giemsa stain
Test Includes:Microscopic exam of thick and thin peripheral blood smears.
Turnaround Time:Performed daily; 0730-1530. Results are reported within 24 hours of receipt. Contact the IDDL Laboratory and Medical Director for testing at other times.
Special Instructions:

Indicate clinical and travel history on request form if not available in electronic medical record.

  • Specify parasite suspected.
  • Provide patient's travel history.
  • Indicate whether the patient has been previously diagnosed, and if so, what parasites were identified and approximate date.
  • Provide a brief description of symptoms.

A rapid malaria screen will be performed on all STAT requests and upon physician request.

Associated Links:

CDC Treatment Guidelines

Collection Instructions

Specimen:Thick and thin blood smears, AND whole blood
Optimal Volume:3 thick and 3 thin blood smears, AND 2 mL blood or 0.5 mL in a microtainer. (Do not fill with more than 0.5 mL)
Minimum\Peds Volume:3 thick and 3 thin blood smears AND 1 mL blood or 0.3 mL in a microtainer. (Do not fill with more than 0.5 mL)
Container:Purple (EDTA), Microscope slides
Collection Instructions:Collect purple (EDTA) tube. Immediately mix 10 times by gentle inversion. Collect blood in syringe after all other tubes are collected and immediately make thick and thin blood smears at the bedside. Alternatively, thick and thin smears can be made directly from fingerstick.
Thin smears should have long feathered edges similar to those used to study cell morphology in Hematology. Thick films are dime-sized preparations several cell layers thick. See separate procedure "Blood Films for Malaria".
Blood smears made from EDTA tubes are inferior and only acceptable if there is no alternative. If EDTA is used, smears should be made within 2 hours of collection.
Label each slide and allow to dry flat before placing in slide holders and delivering to IDDL.

Processing and Shipping

Specimen Processing:Minimum three thin and three thick blood smears are required. Store at room temperature.
Shipping Instructions:Ship at room temperature. Should arrive within 8 hours. If STAT, call special courier.
Test Performed at or Referral Lab Infectious Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory  (UMMC-East Bank)


Critical Range:Positive result.
Reference Range:Negative

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