Every disease must be detected or recognized as soon as the symptoms start to show up. Especially those diseases or illnesses which can spread from one person to another. And malaria is one such disease. It is very important to diagnose and treat people suffering from malaria to prevent the further spread of the infection.
Malaria is considered a medical emergency and is advised to be taken into proper consideration for treatment. Many malaria patients pass away because of poor treatment and delay in diagnosis. Malaria can be identified based on the individual’s travel history, lifestyle, symptoms, and of course medical tests or diagnosis.
Malaria has become such a common disease that in December 2021, India witnessed around 4.2 million malaria-affected patients and around 7400 patients lost their life. Therefore, it is recommended that either microscopy or rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for all suspected patients should be done before treating them. There is a need for an early and accurate diagnosis of malaria. So, in this article, we will know about the accuracy of the malaria test.
What are malaria tests?
Plasmodium parasite is the main cause of this deadly disease called malaria. These parasites are nothing but tiny plants or animals that gather energy by using other creatures. It then gets transmitted to humans by the mosquito (Anopheles mosquitoes) when they bite us.
Malaria is not a contagious disease like the flu, but still it can be spread from one individual to another by mosquitos. Because if a mosquito bites an infected person, it will automatically spread the parasite to anyone else to someone else to whom the mosquito bites. This parasite travels into your bloodstream and starts to increase when it reaches RBC and makes you ill. A malaria test is designed to look for symptoms and signs of malaria infection in the patient’s blood.
What are malaria tests used for?
Malaria test is used to diagnose malaria. If a person infected with malaria is diagnosed as soon as the symptoms show, he/she can get treated early without further spreading and complications. It is very important to do a malaria test because if it’s ignored, delayed, or left untreated it can cause serious health complications like liver failure, blood Infections, internal bleeding, and kidney damage.
How to know if you need a malaria test?
So, if you know that you have visited or crossed to a location where there is a high alert for malaria. It would be safe to go for a malaria test.
In most cases, malaria infection takes at least 15 days to show signs and symptoms. However, it depends on the type of parasite. It also may happen that you have malaria but there are no signs of it. That’s why going for a malaria test is vital. In the early stages of malaria, the symptoms are very much similar to the flu. That is:
1. Fever and sweating
3. Body ache
5. Chest pain, cough, and breathing issues
In later stages or even malaria infection starts to grow in your body. The symptoms like:
1. High fever
2. Blood in stool
4. Kidney damage or failure
5. Mental confusion
7. Abnormal blood sugar level
Know about malaria testing
It is advised that you consult a doctor as soon as you start noticing any above-mentioned signs or symptoms. It’s better to start early treatment to stop parasites from spreading from your body.
Your healthcare worker or doctor may ask for your blood sample to examine the presence of a parasite in your body. Malaria tests will provide help for doctors to diagnose malaria. Once, they have collected your blood.
Malaria testing can be done by different methods:
1. Blood smear test: in this malaria test, parasites can be detected and speciated by this test. This test is also considered a gold standard test for analyzing malaria.
2. Rapid diagnostic test: this malaria test, detects the parasite’s protein or antigen. This test can give faster results than a blood smear test.
3. Molecular test: in cases where the blood smear test is not finalized, physicians may go for molecular tests like PCR to check the presence of a parasite.
Understanding malaria testing results
In case your malaria test report says negative, you are still having certain signs and symptoms of malaria. Then, you should retest again to double-check. Because the number of malaria parasites can vary from time to time.
In case your malaria test report says positive, you can contact healthcare providers or your doctors to prescribe medicines as per your condition. Early treatment should be the priority.
With proper treatment, your malaria can be cured within two to three weeks depending upon the case. In most cases, malaria doesn’t leave any severe consequences if precautions are taken on time.