First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Health Library > Thick and Thin Blood Smears for Malaria
Doctors use thick and thin blood smears to determine whether you have malaria. If one test is negative and no parasites are found, you will have repeated blood smears every 8 hours for a couple of days to confirm that there is no malaria infection.
Blood smears are taken most often from a finger prick. Thick and thin blood smears will let doctors know the percentage of red blood cells that are infected (parasite density) and what type of parasites are present.
To date, microscopic examination of thick and thin blood smears is the easiest and most reliable test for malaria.
Results of thick and thin blood smears may show:
No parasites are present in red blood cells. Your doctor will repeat the test every 8 hours for 1 or 2 days if he or she still suspects that you have malaria.
Parasites are present in red blood cells. The infecting species of Plasmodium is identified. Also, the percentage of red blood cells infected by the Plasmodium parasite (density) is determined.
Treatment may vary depending on the:
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. This information is important to prevent or anticipate life-threatening complications if P. falciparum is the source of infection.
Current as of: June 9, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Current as of:
June 9, 2019
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
6602 Knightdale Blvd.
REX Healthcare of Knightdale, Suite 201
Knightdale, NC 27545
131 E. Market St.
Smithfield, NC 27577
2709 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607
4420 Lake Boone Trail
Rex Hospital, Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27607
1505 SW Cary Parkway
REX Healthcare of Cary, Suite 210
Cary, NC 27511
UNC REX Healthcare4420 Lake Boone TrailRaleigh, NC 27607, USA919-784-3100
Chosen for Excellence
Co-Worker & Physician Login
UNC Health Talk
Copyright 2019 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.