COVID-19 Information: Vaccine | Testing | Self-assessment | Patient & Visitor Safety | Visitor Policy
Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Living Well > 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:
September 23, 2020
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: September 23, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
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.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.