Plasmodium (Blood)

Does this test have other names?

Malaria antibody detection

What is this test?

This test looks for Plasmodium parasites in your blood. These parasites cause malaria, a serious disease that can be fatal if left untreated. Different types of Plasmodium parasites can cause different symptoms. Some types, particularly P. falciparum, can be more serious than others.

You can get these parasites if you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Malaria is common in most of the tropics, including countries in South Asia, the South Pacific, parts of Central and South America, and areas of Africa.

This test may also be able to tell which type of Plasmodium parasite is causing your infection.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if you've been to an area where malaria is common and now have symptoms of the disease. Symptoms often appear 10 days to a month after infection. Symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Chills

  • Sweating

  • Body aches

  • Headaches

  • General feelings of being sick

You may also need this test when donating blood to make sure your blood is safe. You may also have this test if you have an unexplained fever and it's possible that you have malaria, even if other tests for malaria were negative.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

You may also have a rapid diagnosis test for malaria. In some cases, you may need other blood tests to check for complications that malaria can cause. Your healthcare provider will likely order:

  • Complete blood count

  • Blood chemistry that looks at electrolytes, and kidney and liver function

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, and other things. Your test results may be different depending on the lab used. They may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

A normal test is negative, meaning that you don't have any Plasmodium parasites in your blood. A positive result means that you have the parasites in your blood and that you may have malaria.

How is this test done?

The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. 

Does this test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Having the test too soon after becoming infected may give a false-negative result.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use.   

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2022
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