Malaria is a serious global health problem and rapid, precise determination of parasitemia is necessary for malaria research and in clinical settings. Manual counting by light microscopy is the most widely used technique for parasitemia determination but it is a time-consuming and laborious process. The aim of our study was to develop an automated image analysis-based system for the rapid and accurate determination of parasitemia. We have developed, for the first time, a software, MalariaCount, that automatically generates parasitemias from images of Giemsa-stained blood smears. The potential application and robustness of MalariaCount was tested in normal and drug-treated in vitro cultures of Plasmodium falciparum. The results showed a tight correlation between MalariaCount and manual count parasitemia values. These findings suggest that MalariaCount can potentially be used as a tool to provide rapid and accurate determination of parasitemia in research laboratories where frequent, large-scale, efficient determination of parasitemia is required.
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