Multicenter Study to Evaluate the OptiMAL Test for Rapid Diagnosis of Malaria in U.S. Hospitals

Carol J. Palmer, J. Alfredo Bonilla, David A. Bruckner, Elizabeth D. Barnett, Nancy S. Miller, M. A. Haseeb, Joseph R. Masci, William M. Stauffer

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39 Scopus citations


More than 1,000 cases of malaria are diagnosed each year in the United States. Reported numbers, however, may be artificially low because many clinicians fail to consider the diagnosis on presentation, U.S. hospital laboratory technologists have very limited experience in detecting and identifying malaria parasites, and reporting of malaria to state health departments is sporadic in many states. In this study, a rapid malaria diagnostic test, the OptiMAL test (DiaMed; under license from Flow Inc., Portland, Oreg.) was evaluated in six U.S. hospitals and compared with results of microscopy. The OptiMAL test is a 15-min rapid immunochromatographic test that both identifies and differentiates Plasmodium falciparum from non-P. falciparum malaria parasites on the basis of the detection of parasite lactate dehydrogenase in a drop of patient blood. A total of 216 specimens from patients suspected of having malaria were tested. Results indicated that 43 samples (20%) were positive for malaria parasites by microscopy (32 P. falciparum, 11 non-P. falciparum) while 42 (19%) were positive by OptiMAL (31 P. falciparum, 11 non-P. falciparum). The sensitivity of the OptiMAL test was 98%; its specificity was 100%, with positive and negative predictive values of 100 and 99%, respectively. Participating hospital physicians and laboratory directors independently reported that the OptiMAL rapid malaria test was accurate, easy to use, and well accepted by those working in their diagnostic laboratories. The overall conclusion was that integration of the OptiMAL rapid malaria test into the U.S. health care infrastructure would provide an important and easy-to-use tool for the timely diagnosis of malaria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5178-5182
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003


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