Malaria parasite was discovered by the French Scientist Alphonse Laveran (1845-1922) in a military hospital in Algeria in 1880. Laveran noticed spherical bodies adhering to red blood cells and others that were unattached. He also saw pigmented bodies that were crescent shaped. Laveran clearly differentiated all these elements from pigment-carrying white blood cells. The etiological agent for malaria was still not known. The breakthrough for the cause of malaria actually came in the morning of 6th November 1880 when Laveran, by chance, saw the following in the blood of a patient who had been febrile for 15 days; he reported:
"…on the edges of a pigmented spherical body, filiform elements which move with great vivacity, displacing the neighbouring red blood cells."
Laveran saw the exflagellation of a male gametocyte, a stage of the malaria parasite usually found in the stomach of the Anopheles mosquito.
Microscopy has made an excellent contribution to the progress of science and in an era of technological advancement in the laboratory investigation of parasitic diseases, microscopy continues to be regarded as the gold standard for definitive diagnosis.