What is a Malarial Falciparum and Vivax Antigen (Parasite V & F) test?

A malarial falciparum and vivax antigen test is a type of diagnostic test, which differentiates between and confirms the presence of two of the most common causative agents of malaria in your body - Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax

Plasmodium is a parasitic organism that lives in the salivary glands of female anopheles mosquitoes. It is transmitted to our body through mosquito bites. Soon as the parasite enters our body, it produces specific proteins (antigens) that cause acute fever-like symptoms.

There are four species of Plasmodium that can cause malaria. These are P. vivax, P. falciparum, P. malariae and P. ovale. Every species produces a specific type of antigen.

This test looks for the malaria antigen in the body and it also discerns the type of antigen present in the body to find the causative species. It is usually done by taking blood from a vein in the arm, though, in some places, a rapid test is used. A sample for a rapid test is taken by fingerprick and it gives results within 15 minutes.

Every year, nearly 210 million people are infected by the malarial parasite, and around 440,000 people die from the disease. Infection due to P. falciparum is the most severe of all malaria antigens. P. vivax can remain inactive in the liver for several months, and relapse of the infection may occur even after a year of transmission.

  1. Why is a Malarial Falciparum and Vivax Antigen (Parasite V & F) test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for a Malarial Falciparum and Vivax Antigen (Parasite V & F) test?
  3. How is a Malarial Falciparum and Vivax Antigen (Parasite V & F) test performed?
  4. What do Malarial Falciparum and Vivax Antigen (Parasite V & F) test results mean?

If your doctor suspects you have malaria, they may order this test to identify which of the parasites (falciparum or vivax) has caused the infection so that appropriate treatment can be started immediately. 

Malaria from P. falciparum, when left untreated for more than 24 hours after the occurrence of symptoms, can be lethal. 

Common symptoms of malaria are as follows:

Severe form of malaria can cause organ failure resulting in the following conditions:

Individuals who are at high risk of acquiring malaria include: 

  • Those staying Asian and African countries such as India
  • Those who have recently travelled to a malaria-endemic country
  • Young children and infants
  • Older adults
  • Pregnant women and their unborn babies

No special preparation is needed before this test. Inform your doctor if you have a history of malaria. Also, let him/her know if you are taking any prescribed, non-prescribed, and illicit medicines, vitamins or supplements.

It is a blood test for which the doctor will take a few millilitres of your blood from a vein in your arm. 

The collected sample would be immediately sent to the lab for analysis.

The following are the results of this test:

Normal results:

Normal results are written as negative. It means that you do not have any of the malaria antigen in your body and hence do not have the disease.

Abnormal results:

Abnormal results are written as positive. They mean that you have a malaria antigen in your body and need treatment for the same. The test will further tell you which malaria parasite has infected you (Vivax or falciparum).

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.

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References

  1. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; How To Use a Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT)
  2. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; Malaria
  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Malaria
  4. Tintinalli JE, et al., eds. Malaria. In: Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016
  5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Mutebi JP, et al. Protection against mosquitoes, ticks, & other arthropods
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