Parasite Screen

Intestinal Parasites

A parasite is an organism which exploits any other live animal for nutrition. In most cases, the parasitic process causes harm to the host as it removed nutrients intended for the host, or due to its ability to carry diseases into the body. Diagnosis of helminth infection is normally through the detection of the eggs in the stool. These eggs are highly infectious, and very robust. The pig tapeworm Taenia solium has been shown to survive for a decade and still re-infect a new host when eaten.

Worms will live in the gut for many years reproducing, reducing the absorption of nutrients and generally affecting the host’s health.

The protozoa are single-celled organisms. These organisms combine all organs needed for feeding, reproducing and mobility in one single cell, typically about a fiftieth of a millimetre in diameter. The ability to rapidly reproduce and the excretion of toxic waste materials, means that when these animals do infect the gut, there is the potential for serious acute disease.

There are many protozoa that are recognised as pathogenic, that is disease-causing, typical symptoms include diarrhoea, cramps, flatulence and abdominal discomfort.

Symptoms of a parasitic infection?
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Gas, bloating
  • Dysentery (loose stools containing blood and mucus)
  • Rash, itching around the anus or vulva
  • Stomach pain/tenderness
  • Feeling tired
  • Weight loss
  • Passing a worm or section of a worm in your stool.

The likelihood of a parasitic infection is greatly increased if you experience any of the above symptoms following foreign travel.

What causes a parasitic infection?

Parasites are often thought of as a tropical disease, but this is a huge misconception. It is estimated that as many as 10% of people in the UK have parasites. Many people will carry parasitic infections at a subclinical level for years, with the parasite feeding, reproducing and affecting the health of the host.

Contaminated food and water, raw or inadequately cooked meat and fish and physical contact are the most widespread sources of intestinal parasites. The effect of parasites living in the gut depends on the species of parasite identified, of which there are two main types, helminth and protozoa.

How does the test work?

CNS carry out a total of 12 investigations. Samples are subjected to a microscopy technique that utilises Optimized Parasite Recovery (OPR) in order to ensure that all clinically relevant parasites will be identified. This process involves combining multiple stool specimens (taken over 3 consecutive days) for intestinal ova and parasite examination, as opposed to only using an individual sample for evaluation.

Studies show that by combining stool specimens, the overall detection rate of parasites increases by more than 20%. Special stains are also used to enhance the detection of some of the common gut parasites.

Sample requirements and test turnaround?

When you order the test we will send you the stool collection kit with comprehensive instructions on how to collect and store your sample.

Samples need to be taken on 3 different days, and put into the pots provided containing a preservative. When you have collected the required samples, you just post them back to the laboratory in the mail-safe container.

The results of our investigation will be returned to you within 10 working days.

Sources  Cambridge Nutritional Science