Malaria Tests

Now, if you find yourself walking around the corner past BS security service (not to be confused with the BM security services of Nairobi) you will find a lab that offers BS tests. (Does anyone else notice that cussing is not part of Kenya’s English curriculum? This is one of the many reasons I enjoy living here instead of the US).

Moving on now, BS stands for “blood smear,” and is the standard malaria test in Kenya. (Now that I have explained the abbreviation, it is a little easier to explain). Any time one of the kids at Mattaw falls ill, I find myself at the lab having another BS test preformed. Although this test results in a lot of false positives, it still saves many lives in Kenya.

Malaria is known as the “great imitator” because it can be mistaken as everything from the common cold to a mental illness. Because of this, doctors visits always begin with a malaria test.

First, the pointer finger is cleaned with rubbing alcohol and then pricked with a lancet (like the ones Diabetics use). Then the blood is rubbed against a clean slide.

After the blood has dried, it is examined under a simple microscope–not more advanced than what you see in high-school labs back home. The laboratory tech can easily see the parasite in between the blood cells if it is present. No gram stain required. Unfortunately, our little girl came back positive for malaria today, but luckily her parasite load was very low.

If there is anything I miss about nursing school it is microbiology lab. I look forward to the day that Mattaw has it’s own microscope so I can do these tests for free.

7 Responses to Malaria Tests

  1. Karen Alexander says:

    Elizabeth, I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed getting your posts since my family returned from their trip. We feel such a connection with you guys! Just curious. How much would a microscope cost?

  2. elizabeth says:

    Honestly, we really need to finish the medical room before doing that. This means buying a desk, examination table, cabinets, and getting electricity to Mattaw. Then we can set up and use a microscope. But a good one costs around $2000.

  3. AL Luedecke says:

    Power for a scope could be available from a small geterator or an inverter connected to a common car battery recharged by a small solar charger. FOr the scope, you could make a proposal to your blog followers to donate amajor portion of the funds with the remainder from local sources. You need the local participation to get the sense of ownership.

    Put me on the list, please.

  4. Karen Alexander says:

    Just let us know when and how we can help, Elizabeth! We’ll be in prayer about it. God bless you!

    • elizabeth says:

      Thank you Karen. We enjoyed having your family here. Looking forward to the time you all can come back.

  5. chaplain yom says:

    Please count us in and keep us informed om the MICROSCOPE PROJECT.

  6. Hello there Elizabeth and all!
    I am so very happy to have found this site, and at present- I don’t remember how I happened on it over an hour ago. Elizabeth I am so proud of you for all your work, and making a difference in the lives of children. God bless you! We will keep you in our prayers. I agree with the above commenters, and would love to help! I am pretty good at getting donations- I wonder if we can get a microscope donated? If you post the details about some specific stuff you want/need/like than I’ll see what I can do! Much love and blessings!!!

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