Taxonomy: f. Plasmodidae
Animal: Plasmodium falciparum 1 20.jpg
Sites: Blood
Plasmodium falciparum thin film with trophozoites and gametocyte, very heavy infection in a patient in PNG. Note the fine ring forms and the gametocyte in the centre. Gametocytes appear after 10 days of parasitaemia and remain in the blood for 2-3 weeks after the attack. This malaria parasite will invade all ages of red cells. It is important to examine both thick and thin films and when the clinical indications and history of the patient are strong, that repeat blood collections be made over a 36 hour period before ruling out a malaria infection. The history of the patient especially the drug history is important for infections of P.falciparum which is usually the only species that can rapidly lead to death. Finger prick collection is preferred as P.falciparum especially accumulates in capillaries and also anticoagulant can distort the parasites. Accurate species identification is essential for correct treatment to be administered. (See parasitology textbooks such as Garcia and Bruckner 1997 for details)

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