Rapid immunochromatography-based detection of mixed-species malaria infection in Pakistan

Document Type



Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


We report the identification of mixed Plasmodium infections in four recent patients with malaria clinically refractory to empiric chloroquine therapy using the rapid antigen detection kit, NOW ICT Malaria Pf/Pv. A rapid in vitro immunodiagnostic test, the NOW ICT Malaria Pf/Pv test kit was used for the detection of circulating Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) and Plasmodium vivax (Pv) antigens in whole blood. Peripheral blood microscopy confirmed mixed-species infection in all the cases. Thick and thin peripheral blood films were made and stained with Giemsa stain and examined by both hospital laboratory staff and an experienced parasitologist who was blinded to the results of the rapid malarial antigen tests. Four recent patients (all male; mean age, 24 years) with mixed malarial infection were identified. All the subjects were males working for an oil company in a coastal area of Pakistan, and all had been diagnosed presumptively with malaria based on clinical grounds (without microbiologic confirmation), and were treated empirically with chloroquine without clinical response. Semiquantitative malaria counts via microscopy were as follows: P. vivax, scanty (2 patients) and moderate (2 patients); for P. falciparum--scanty (1 patient), moderate (2 patients), and heavy (1 patient). The present case series, although limited by the small number of patients with proven mixed P. falciparum-P. vivax infection, highlights the usefulness of the rapid antigen test in a highly malarious region of Pakistan where chloroquine resistance is prevalent. Although there was full concordance between the results of blood smear microscopy and rapid antigen testing, these techniques are potentially most useful when there is a discrepancy with microscopy findings. Accurate and rapid diagnosis of parasites, particularly in cases of mixed P. falciparum and P. vivax infection, is of immense importance for individual patient management and in reducing the burden of disease, especially in regions of chloroquine resistance.


The Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health