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What Are the Different Types of Parasite Tests?

An antibody blood tests is often used when testing for parasites.
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  • Written By: Donn Saylor
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2014
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There are several different types of parasite tests used to diagnose and treat parasitic infection; these include stool tests, blood tests, pinworm tests, and swab culture tests. Many of these testing options can be ordered online and analyzed at a remote laboratory, though most doctors can also conduct testing for parasites. The type of test typically depends on the type of parasite an individual is thought to have.

When parasites enter the body, they feed off of human tissue and the protein encompassing the nerves. Proper diagnosis is vital for effective parasite control and treatment. Those who work around young children, have weak immune systems, possess improper sanitation facilities, or practice lackluster hygiene are at the highest risk for acquiring various types of parasites. Symptoms of parasites include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and itching or discomfort in the anal area.

Analyzing a stool sample is the most common and effective of all the parasite tests. The sample is placed on a slide and inserted under a microscope for magnification, which can detect the tiny wormlike creatures. A stool sample analysis can also identify certain bodily functions that have been compromised by the infection, including red and white blood cell count, fatty acid crystals, and undigested tissue.

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There are two major types of blood tests that can detect parasites in the system. An antigen test can identify a parasite's protein composition. This test can be conducted via blood draw or directly through a stool sample. The other blood test most frequently used is a blood antibody test, which can determine if an individual has been exposed to a parasite in the past. It cannot sense a present infection but may be able to shed light on lingering health problems associated with a past infection.

Parasite tests known as pinworm tests are typically conducted on individuals who are experiencing an itchy anus. The test involves placing a strip of tape over the anus, removing it, and analyzing the residue left on the tape. Pinworms do not traditionally show up in stool samples, and since they tend to nocturnally gather in the external anal area, this test is the most effective way of detecting their presence.

Swab tests are parasite tests that are usually conducted when other testing methods have produced a negative result. Since parasites will not always show up in blood or stool samples, a swab test is often the second line of testing. A swab can pick up a skin culture for easier analysis and may be able to better identify a parasitic infection.

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