There are 6 commonly used parasite tests. By comparing all 6, there is 1 parasite test that is most accurate for diagnosing parasitic infections. Here are the 4 things you want to look for when evaluating your parasite test:. Now we'll go through each of the 6 tests - ranking them from worst to best:. Your gastroenterologist can look at a live video of your colon, or your stomach and small intestine. If your doctor spots a parasitic worm helminth in your intestines, then your doctor can diagnose a parasite infection.
Range of parasites: Your doctor can only see large parasites with this method of diagnosis. Most parasites are microscopic - and can't be seen without magnification or other methods. Accuracy: If your doctor can visually see a parasite wriggling around in your intestines, then you definitely have a parasite infection.
Differentiating Old and New Infections: Your doctor will only be able to see current infections. Additionally, patients have to undergo uncomfortable bowel prep by taking a strong laxative. I would personally not rely on a colonoscopy or endoscopy for complete diagnosis of parasite infections. Many parasites are invisible without staining and magnification, so it won't diagnose any parasites except the largest ones.
The blood smear tests are very important for diagnosing blood-borne parasites. However, only certain parts of the world are endemic with these types of parasites. For example, the parasites that cause malaria and sleeping sickness African trypanosomiasis would be diagnosed by a blood smear test. But unless you've been travelling to parts of the world where these types of parasites are endemic, these blood smears would not be helpful in finding parasites.
So the accuracy of this test is very high, but the range of parasites is too limited for it to be useful for most people reading this website. Therefore I would not rate this as useful for most people. Be sure to refer to the CDC website to see if you're travelling to a place that is endemic with blood borne parasites. In this test, blood is drawn or saliva collected and then tested for antigens and antibodies that are specific to certain parasites.
While this is a relatively painless procedure, it has some serious drawbacks.
The saliva test is convenient, but it has the same limitations as the blood test. Worse still, it may show you aren't infected with a parasite, even if you currently are infected. This test is quite amazing and can give testing results very quickly as fast as 24 hours. Essentially the technician takes a stool sample, puts it into a machine, and it tells you which parasite DNA it has found.
But, she also says that it isn't the ideal way to test for parasites today. Click to read in depth article about PCR parasite testing. This test, also known as microscopy, takes some feces, processes it, concentrates it, stains it, and then places it onto a microscope slide.
A technician then looks at the feces through a microscope and visually inspects and records what parasites, and parasite eggs called ova they observe. In our high tech world, this "manual" method of parasite detection seems out of place. But when it comes to real world parasite infections, this is typically the most effective and reliable test for the following reasons:. While this test is by far my favorite, it can also be very misleading if the technicians are inexperienced or trained poorly.
Since my teacher Emma Lane works with many people with parasite infections, she needed to find the best laboratory that would give her:. Unless you've been travelling to a place that has malaria or other blood borne parasitic diseases, the stool test Parasite and Ova stool test is the best. Click here to learn about the best home parasite stool test kit. Evan Jerkunica, Parasites.Intestinal worms, or parasitic worms, are simple organisms that feed off the human body.
Many people recognize the more common varieties, such as tapeworms and hookworms, but may be less aware of the others. Intestinal worms can cause many symptoms in the body, some of which are similar to the symptoms of other gut disorders. A quick and thorough diagnosis is crucial in each case to avoid complications. Doctors may use antiparasitic medications or other treatments to help get rid of the worms.
Although intestinal worms may seem scary, most people respond well to treatment. In this article, we take a look at the different types of intestinal worm and the symptoms that they can cause.
Intestinal worms in humans and their symptoms
We also examine how people can get intestinal worms and what the treatment involves. Each species of intestinal worm may cause different symptoms, and the symptoms may also vary from person to person. In rarer cases, the intestinal worm may lead to severe blockages in the intestine, making it difficult for the person to have a bowel movement.
There are many different types of intestinal worm that can affect people. Below, we look at some of them in more detail. A tapeworm is a type of flatworm that lives in the intestine, where it attaches itself to the intestinal wall. Most people with tapeworms experience either no symptoms or very mild symptoms. There are a few different types of tapeworm. Some tapeworms live in water, and drinking unclean water may allow them into the body. Other tapeworms live in meats, such as beef or pork, and ingesting unclean or raw meats may expose the person to them.
Tapeworms are flat and tend to be long, usually between 3 and 10 meters depending on the type of worm. The name of the worm describes the way that one end of its body tapers off into a needle or hook shape. The CDC state that, according to estimates, to million people in the world have a hookworm infection.
Hookworms take up space in the small intestine, where they lay eggs, which pass out of the body through the feces. When the eggs hatch, the larvae can potentially enter through the skin of another person. People are at risk if they come into contact with the fecal matter or with soil containing contaminated feces as fertilizer.
Most people with a hookworm have no symptoms. Some people may show typical gastrointestinal symptoms, and this may be more common with first-time infections. Flukes are another type of flatworm. Flukes may be more common in animals, although it is possible for humans to contract these parasitic worms as well. Flukes are small and have a rounded leaf shape.
Humans get them by accidentally eating or ingesting them, either in drinking water or freshwater plants, such as watercress. Some people do not have any symptoms, but others may experience symptoms months or even years after first ingesting the parasite. These people may experience inflammation of the bile ducts or complete blockages. They may have an abnormally large liver or unusual readings on a liver test.
Pinworms are relatively harmless and sometimes live in the colon and rectum of humans. Someone who has the worms can pass them onto someone else through direct contact or by sharing a contaminated object with them. Pinworms commonly cause itching around the anus, which can be severe enough to make sleeping difficult. Symptoms appear during the night as this is when the female pinworms crawl out of the anus to lay their eggs on the surrounding skin. Ascariasis is similar to a hookworm, although it is only a few inches long.
It lives in contaminated soil, so it only enters the body when people ingest the eggs.They can invade the blood, the digestive tract, even the bile duct. They enter through the mouth, through the skin, through the nose. They can cause disease, blindness and sometimes death. Full body shudders, right? But as disgusting as parasites are, they're also elegant examples of evolution. The following images reveal these dangerous organisms in microscopic detail. This confetti-like image is Borrelia burgdorferithe bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.
This parasite evolved to live in the blood of small mammals, which usually don't show any ill effects of infection, according to a paper published in the journal Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. Once infected, people experience fatigue, fever and often a red, circular rash that may look like a bull's-eye. Without treatment with antibioticsLyme disease can progress and cause arthritis, meningitis and neurological symptoms like pain and numbness.
No microscope is needed for a close look at the tapeworm Taenia saginatawhich regularly reaches 33 feet 10 meters in length. This tapeworm hatches inside the digestive tract of cattle, and larvae spread into the muscle. The worm spreads to humans who eat raw or undercooked beef from an infected cow. Giardiaa parasitic protozoan transmitted by untreated drinking water, causes giardiasis, a diarrheal illness accompanied by nausea and fatigue. Under a microscope, the protozoan's adaptations for life in the digestive system are visible: A suction-cup disk for adhering to surfaces and four pairs of flagella for moving around.
The dark pink specks in this microscopic image of blood are hemoprotozoan parasites called Babesia. This is a tick-borne illness seen in the Midwest and the Northeast. The symptoms are a bit like those of malaria: Fever, anemia, fatigue and chills. Ixodes scapularis ticks — the same kind that spread Lyme disease — are also responsible for passing around Babesia parasites.
The protozoa reproduce inside red blood cells, often budding to form a trademark four-pronged cross shape.
This unassuming oval is the egg of Fasciola hepaticathe sheep liver fluke. Despite its name, this fluke can infect humans, where it sets up shop in the liver and bile ducts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people usually pick up an infection by eating watercress or other aquatic plants. The parasite can cause chronic inflammation of the liver, bile ducts, gallbladder and pancreas, according to the CDC.
Schistosoma mansoniis a parasitic worm spread when human skin comes into contact with infested water. This worm lives its life cycle in two hosts: Freshwater snails where the eggs hatch into free-swimming larvae and vertebrates, including humans.
The ensuring disease is called schistosomiasis or, sometimes, swimmer's rash after the itchy red rash people often experience after the larvae penetrates their skin. Chronic infection can lead to damage in the intestine and bladder as the worms release their eggs, according to the CDC. Hookworms: A good reason not to go barefoot in the summer, at least not when walking through a freshly fertilized field.
These nematodes spread when an infected person defecates outside; the worm eggs hatch in the soil and then develop into larvae capable of burrowing into bare skin.Chapter 23 - The Parasites of Medical Importance
According to the CDC, hookworm used to be widespread in the United States, but improved hygiene has greatly reduced infections.If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission.
How this works. The pinworm, also known as threadworm, is a very common intestinal parasite. The medical condition associated with pinworm infestation is known as enterobiasis. They are parasites, meaning that they use the human body to survive and reproduce. Human pinworms cannot infect any other animals.
Adult worms are just 0. They are white or cream colored and look like small pieces of thread. Pinworms can live for up to 6 weeks. If an individual only has a small number of adult worms, the symptoms will be mild, or there may be no symptoms at all. Symptoms are worse with heavy or moderate infections. About 4 weeks after ingesting pinworm eggs, the mature females make their way out from the intestine to the anal area, where eggs are laid in a jelly-like substance.
It is this substance that is believed to cause a person to itch, which usually happens at night. During the maturing and reproduction stages, a person with pinworms may experience:. If somebody is found to have an infection, all other members of the household should be treated too, even if they have no symptoms. Strict hygiene measures can remedy pinworm infection and significantly reduce the risk of re-infection.
The worm has a life span of about 6 weeks, so any hygiene measures taken need to last at least that long. When the infestation has gone, good hand-washing practice and hygiene will help prevent re-infection. Good hygiene can prevent another outbreak even if children pick up another pinworm infection from friends at school. Eggs are transferred from the anus of an infected person to either their own mouth, re-infecting themselves, or another surface.
If somebody else touches that contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, they may have ingested the eggs and can become infected.Jon Allen could feel it with his tongue — a small rough patch that would show up periodically on the roof of his mouth … then inside his cheek … then inside his lip.
An assistant professor in the biology department at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Allen lectures on nematodes and parasites for a living, so on the last day of finals last December when he felt it again, he left his class, grabbed a camera and opened wide. And there in the snapshots was clear, squiggly evidence just under the skin of his lower lip of the sinusoidal meandering of a parasitic nematode.
This was too good to be true. He did his research and discovered there was only one parasitic worm capable of living in the human mouth: Gongylonema pulchrum, or G. He also knew that G. In fact, if his suspicions were confirmed, Allen would become only the 13 t h case ever reported in the United States.
So he took his pictures, his research documents and his Ph.
He shot off an email to his neighbor, Aurora Esquela Kerscher, a molecular cell biologist at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk and an expert in small-scale nematodes:. So in the middle of the night, after tucking his restless 3-year-old son back into bed, Allen headed to the bathroom with a pair of ultra fine forceps.
With his wife, slightly grossed out, aiming a flashlight into his mouth, Allen gently scraped his cheek lining to get a good handle on the nematode. He nipped it carefully with the forceps and tugged. The worm slipped his grip once, then twice. Allen had visions of breaking it. Or of accidentally swallowing it. He buckled down a third time and nipped it with more force, and the worm came out wriggling at the end of his forceps — translucent, as thin as a slip of thread, and about 2 centimeters long, or three-quarters of an inch.
He couldn't quite bring himself to kill it right off, so he dropped it in a jar of his own saliva. Then, still in his pajamas, he carted it to his lab at William and Mary to examine it under a microscope. Later, Kerscher sectioned off a portion of the specimen — which they nicknamed Buddy — for genetic tests that confirmed its identity with 99 percent certainty.
If you had an intestinal parasite or virus, you're getting quite sick — but this one, you're fine. So long as it lives in the back of the throat or the esophagus, the worm is undetectable. Usually only when it gravitates to the soft tissue of the oral cavity can the host feel something amiss. Most cases reported in this country occurred in the southeastern states, but at least two were in large cities in the Northeast. There are fewer than 60 reported cases around the world — most in the Soviet Union, Europe and the Middle East.
But the two scientists suspect G. Or, like Allen's, dismissed. In a case in Iran that appeared in the Journal of Helminthology inan Iranian woman who reported "a one-year history of feeling a migratory creeping sensation in the neck region and upper part of the digestive tract" was first diagnosed with delusional parasitosis. Only after treating and examining her again did doctors finally detect "two delicate, white, thread-like worms" and remove them. Insects are intermediate hosts for G. Its life cycle begins when a primary host passes G.
If that infected insect is gobbled up by a primary vertebrate host, the parasite grows to adult size in two to three months.Giardiasis is a diarrheal disease caused by the microscopic parasite Giardia. A parasite is an organism that feeds off of another to survive. Once a person or animal for example, cats, dogs, cattle, deer, and beavers has been infected with Giardiathe parasite lives in the intestines and is passed in feces poop.
Once outside the body, Giardia can sometimes survive for weeks or months. Giardia can be found within every region of the U. Anything that comes into contact with feces poop from infected humans or animals can become contaminated with the Giardia parasite. People become infected when they swallow the parasite. It is not possible to become infected through contact with blood.
These symptoms may also lead to weight loss. Some people with Giardia infection have no symptoms at all.
Everything you need to know about pinworms
In otherwise healthy people, symptoms of giardiasis may last 2 to 6 weeks. Occasionally, symptoms last longer. Medications can help decrease the amount of time symptoms last. Children in childcare settings, especially diaper-aged children are at risk for Giardia exposure. People more likely to become infected include:. Your healthcare provider will ask you to submit stool poop samples to see if you are infected.
Because testing for giardiasis can be difficult, you may be asked to submit several stool specimens collected over several days. Many prescription drugs are available to treat giardiasis. Although the Giardia parasite can infect all people, infants and pregnant women may be more likely to experience dehydration from the diarrhea caused by giardiasis.
To prevent dehydration, infants and pregnant women should drink a lot of fluids while ill.This is a story that just might keep you up at night. One night in September last year, I woke up at 3 a. I am a scientist, and therefore not the kind of person who goes down the rabbit-hole looking to self-diagnose a rare disease, but there I was, night-surfing internet health sites trying to figure out what was behind the strange rough spot in my mouth.
Morning, as it often does, saw a return to normal in both mouth and outlook. But then, a couple days later, the bump came back. And it had moved.
As the roaming bump came and went from day to day, I grew increasingly concerned. Midnight conversations with my sleeping wife did little to address the issue. I began to wonder if some kind of parasite might explain the wandering rough patch in my mouth.
Unfortunately for me, whatever was causing my symptoms liked to wander around in places I couldn't see, and it would stay that way for three full months. This was starting to keep me up at night. By training, I'm an invertebrate biologist. In my job as a biology professor at the College of William and Mary, I teach students about the 98 percent or so of animal species that don't have a backbone. Many of these animals are charismatic, in their own spineless way: sea urchins, starfish, corals, jellyfish, etc.
Those that aren't charismatic are often tasty: crabs, lobsters, clams, oysters — you get the picture. Despite their inherent beauty and palatability, it can be challenging to engage students in these largely foreign animals — but I've found that lecturing about invertebrate parasites never fails to garner a rapt audience. Invertebrates, or any organisms, that make humans their home are inherently of interest to people.
In general, we know a great deal about the organisms that make a living inside of us. In fact the symbol of the medical profession, the rod of Asclepius, is rumored to be an ancient symbol of a parasitic worm being spun out of the human body on a stick a technique still used to this day to cure Guinea worm infections.
You might therefore reasonably expect that parasites are both easily detected and widely known by medical professionals. You'd be wrong on both counts. After three months of intermittent symptoms, I self-diagnosed myself in late December last year. It happened to be the day of the final exam for the Invertebrate Biology class I teach.
The rough patch that had been migrating around my oral cavity for three months had moved to my lower lip. A few minutes in the bathroom with my camera confirmed my suspicions of a parasite. I could actually see the worm; it had moved, at last, into my lip. The sinusoidal shape of my parasite pal told me it was a nematode worm and a quick internet search armed with the right information, those internet health websites switch from the refuge of hypochondriacs to the halls of modern medicine suggested a likely candidate: Gongylonema pulchrum.
The only problem with my diagnosis is that G. Nonetheless, armed with photographs of the worm in my lip and a handful of recent case studies, I felt confident I could make the case to my doctor. The thought crossed my mind that if I got a medical professional to help me with the diagnosis, we might even write it up as a case study ourselves.