In a patient suspected of having malaria, what is the best diagnostic test?
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Diagnosis of malaria must include a blood smear which can help identify parasites. Sometimes in the late stage of Plasmodium infection, there may not be any parasites in the red blood cell, and the diagnosis has to be made on clinical suspicion.
Thick smears are many times more sensitive than thin smears, but it is hard to identify the species.
The highest yield of peripheral parasites occurs during or soon after a fever spike.
Other tests to identify malarial parasites include the quantitative buffy coat dipstick that detects lactate dehydrogenase of the parasite or a monoclonal antibody test to histidine-rich protein.
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