Indexed on: 12 Oct '05Published on: 12 Oct '05Published in: Clinical Microbiology and Infection
Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum remains the major life-threatening parasitic infection in the world. The number of cases in non-endemic countries continues to increase, and it is important that misdiagnosis of malaria should not occur, especially in non-immune travellers, because of the high risk of a fatal outcome. In a retrospective study of 399 sera, the Now Malaria rapid test was compared with the quantitative buffy coat (QBC) test and microbiological examination of thin blood films. Compared with the QBC test and thin blood films, the Now Malaria test had sensitivity and specificity values of 96.4% and 97%, respectively, for the detection of pure P. falciparum infection. A negative predictive value of 99.4% allows this test to be included in diagnostic strategies for patients presenting with clinical suspicion of malaria. Two false-negative results were associated with low levels of parasitaemia in the specimens. Thus, use of the Now Malaria test alone to detect P. falciparum infection in non-endemic countries could lead to misdiagnosis of malaria. This rapid diagnostic test should therefore be performed in association with another prompt traditional method such as examination of thin blood films.