The Giemsa stain is one of several hematology stains known as Romanowsky Stains which differentiate various cellular structures and detect bacteria in blood smears. It is a polychromatic dye which contains both the basic dye Methylene Blue and the acid dyes Eosin and Azure B, which allows it to stain basic components like the cytoplasm of the cell in a pale color, and the acidic components like the nucleus dark.
Gustav Giemsa, the German chemist for whom the stain is named, first developed this staining method for the demonstration of the parasites causing malaria. The Giemsa stain can effectively demonstrate Schüffner’s dots, colored dots in the hematology sample, which are affiliated with Plasmodium vivax (the malaria parasite). These are not visualized with the Wright-Giemsa stain, so Giemsa is still today looked to as the gold standard for Malaria diagnosis.
The Giemsa staining method was adapted for histology because of its uses demonstrating chromatin and the nuclear membrane. It is used for the detection of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which grows in the digestive tract and can cause cancer.
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