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The possibility of malaria should be considered for any patient with a fever who is currently in or has recently returned from a risk zone, whether or not they took preventative medication. The tests for diagnosing malaria are:
Thick smear. This is the leading test for diagnosing malaria. It consists of taking a blood sample to observe the parasite under a microscope. If the thick smear is positive, a thin smear is performed to identify the species and level of parasites in the blood.
Rapid diagnostic test (RDT) or an antigen detection test. This is used when the patient has taken medication, or when there is no microscopy available.
Molecular diagnostic test using PCR. This consists of identifying the parasite’s genetic material in a blood sample.
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