Evaluation of the optimal test for rapid diagnosis of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparurn malaria

Carol J. Palmer, John F. Lindo, Winslow I. Klaskala, Jose A. Quesada, Rina Kaminsky, Marianna K. Baum, Arba L. Ager

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184 Scopus citations


The development of rapid and specific diagnostic tests to identify individuals infected with malaria is of paramount importance in efforts to control the severe public health impact of this disease. This study evaluated the ability of a newly developed rapid malaria diagnostic test, OptiMAL (Flow Inc., Portland, Oreg.), to detect Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum malaria during an outbreak in Honduras. OptiMAL is a rapid (10-min) malaria detection test which utilizes a dipstick coated with monoclonal antibodies against the intracellular metabolic enzyme parasite lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH). Differentiation of malaria parasites is based on antigenic differences between the pLDH isoforms. Since pLDH is produced only by live Plasmodium parasites, this test has the ability to differentiate live from dead organisms. Results from the OptiMAL test were compared to those obtained by reading 100 fields of traditional Giemsa-stained thick-smear blood films. Whole-blood samples were obtained from 202 patients suspected of having malaria. A total of 96 samples (48%) were positive by blood films, while 91 (45%) were positive by the OptiMAL test. The blood films indicated that 82% (79 of 96) of the patients were positive for P. vivax and 18% (17 of 96) were infected with P. falciparum. The OptiMAL test showed that 81% (74 of 91) were positive for P. vivax and 19% (17 of 91) were positive for P. falciparum. These results demonstrated that the OptiMAL test had sensitivities of 94 and 88% and specificities of 100 and 99%, respectively, when compared to traditional blood films for the detection of P. vivax and P. falciparum malaria. Blood samples not identified by OptiMAL as malaria positive normally contained parasites at concentrations of less than 100/μl of blood. Samples found to contain P. falciparum were further tested by two other commercially available rapid malaria diagnostic tests, ParaSight-F (Becton Dickinson, Cockeysville, Md.) and ICT Malaria P.f. (ICT Diagnostics, Sydney, Australia), both of which detect only P. falciparum. Only 11 of the 17 (65%) P. falciparum-positive blood samples were identified by the ICT and ParaSight-F tests. Thus, OptiMAL correctly identified P. falciparum malaria parasites in patient blood samples more often than did the other two commercially available diagnostic tests and showed an excellent correlation with traditional blood films in the identification of both P. vivax malaria and P. falciparum malaria. We conclude that the OptiMAL test is an effective tool for the rapid diagnosis of malaria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-206
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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