Malaria is an infectious disease and one of the most important public health diseases caused by Plasmodium species and transmitted by the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes during blood meals.
The species of malaria parasites that cause malaria infection are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium malariae, and Plasmodium knowlesi. In 2019, 228million cases of malaria infection were estimated worldwide by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
WHO provides standard protocols for the diagnosis of malaria. The most common are the Microscopy and Rapid Diagnostic Test methods. The microscopy method is the gold standard provided technical and personnel requirements are met. The rapid Diagnostic Test method is fast, can be used at the point of care, and does not special or trained personnel. Meanwhile, it is not sensitive at low levels of parasitaemia and cannot be used to quantify the density or differentiate the species of parasite.
New approaches have been developed for a more accurate diagnosis of malaria. The Molecular Diagnostic Method which uses Polymerase Chain Reaction for the amplification of the nucleic acid of the parasite has high sensitivity and specificity for Plasmodium detection. This makes this method perfect for confirming the species of Plasmodium present in the patient’s blood.
Another molecular approach involves the use of the LAMP method or biosensors to detect Plasmodium falciparum. This method is also sensitive and not as expensive as the PCR method. The detection of malaria parasite antibodies by serology using either immunofluorescence assay(IFA) or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is also a reliable method of detecting prior exposure to malaria.