Species identification: summary page


Return to Malaria main index

Plasmodium falciparum

Summary: The ring trophozoites are small, fine often with typical accolé forms, multiple parasites per cell, and double dot forms. As developmental continues the trophozoites aquire characteristic Maurer's dots and clefts. Schizonts are irregular and "tatty" and are rarely seen in blood unless severe infection, while gametocytes have are characteristicaly elongated (often curved).

Plasmodium vivax


  • Large and robust rings that become "amoeboid" during later development
  • Red cells become increasingly enlarged and distorted as parasites mature
  • Schüffner's dots are visible in appropriately stained thin blood films
  • All forms tend to circulate with large schizont and gametocyte forms present

Plasmodium ovale

POETc.jpg POLTc.jpg POSc.jpg POGc.gif

Brief summary

  • Ring forms are large and robust and often retained in the late trophozoite stage
  • Red cells become moderately enlarged and may have oval shape with characteristic fimbriation
  • Schüffner's (James) dots form dusing development and will be seen in appropriately stained samples
  • All developmental forms tend to circulate and may be difficult to distinguish from P.vivax

Plasmodium malariae

PMETc.jpg PMLTc.jpg PMSc.jpg PMGc.jpg

Brief summary

  • Small rings (less delicate than P.falciparum) and becoming elongated or solid as parasites mature
  • Red cells often small remaining a round shape and with no added dots unless heavily stained
  • All forms tend to circulate, characteristically look for "daisy" schizonts and small round gametocytes
  • Parasite number is often low

For more information

Plasmodium knowlesi

Brief Summary

  • Very limited geographical distribution within S.E Asia
  • Small fine ring forms resemble those of P.falciparum and may have high parasite count
  • Later rings are more solid or elongated similar to P.malariae, although faint dots may be present
  • Schizonts & gametocytes are often present and may resemble P.malariae but are less "neat"
  • Characteristically red cell size is unaffected, although distortion may be seen

For more information