Species identification: summary page


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Plasmodium falciparum


  • Small and fine ring forms, look for typical forms accolé, multiple parasites per cell, double dot
  • Characteristic Maurer's dots and clefts in late trophozoites
  • The irregular and "tatty" schizonts very rarely seen in blood unless severe infection
  • Characteristic elongated (often curved) 'banana' gametocytes

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

  • rings are large and robust, with ring appearance often retained in late trophozoite stage
  • Red cells are enlarged often with oval shape and may have characteristic fimbriation
  • Schüffner's (James) dots seen in appropriately stained samples
  • All forms tend to circulate, parasites are large but tend to be smaller than for P.vivax

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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

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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

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