Comprehensive Parasitology Stool Test UK

For a long time parasites seemed to be a problem of the past or occasionally found in foreign countries. Recently, however, it is clear that parasites have made a comeback. Certainly holidays in countries where hygiene is not as sophisticated are contributing to a higher infection rate. People can infect themselves with parasites when eating contaminated meat or fish. Flies, for example, can carry worm eggs onto food. Protozoa, for example, can be found in salad which has been washed in contaminated water. Animal faeces can be another infection source.

Can a stool test detect parasites?

Our laboratory uses a special concentration method to detect worm eggs and larva as well as cysts of protozoa in a single stool sample. This covers most relevant parasites. For limitations of this test, please see the bottom of this page or/and download our information pdf Parasites which would be detected in a stool tes.pdf. Protozoa cysts are very resistant, so even after the postal transport of a sample this is a very reliable detection method. At the same time practitioners have to remind patients to have a look at their stool. How is its colour and consistency? Can they detect mucous or blood or can they even see little moving bits? Worm fragments can sometimes move and tape worms sections, for example, are easily visible because of their size.

Patient/Practitioner Benefit

  • A safe diagnosis for possibly very unspecific symptoms
  • Easy monitoring of therapy success

Clinical Applications

Infections with parasites can be very difficult to diagnose, as these infections can go without clear symptoms for years. Some patients, however, can have very severe symptoms. The test may be applicable for patients who present some of the following symptoms

  • persistent diarrhoea or alternating diarrhoea and constipation
  • attacks of sweating or feeling cold
  • fever
  • colic like pains
  • hunger attacks which alternate with times of no appetite
  • persistent cough
  • weight loss
  • anal itching
  • anaemia
  • symptoms following foreign travel

Sample Requirements

Single stool sample.

To download a leaflet on parasites as a pdf please click the link below:

Parasites which would be detected in a stool test.pdf

Analysis procedure and limitations of the test

Our lab provides a comprehensive parasitology stool test because it uses an elaborate procedure to concentrate and filter the stool and then a specialised biologist looks at each sample under the microscope. Actually it is not the parasite itself which is detected. That is not possible with all the dirt in the stool. The stool is filtered and then mixed with certain fluids so that the scientist can see cysts or eggs, which are microscopically small. They first survive almost anything but also fit through the filter pores unlike the rest of the stool.

Tapeworms, however, do not lay eggs into the intestine. They shed whole body parts containing eggs. We can only see them as little white particles in the stool, but not in this parasite test.

Round- or pinworms cannot be found in the stool either. Pinworms can be spotted in the anal area, especially at night when the worms lay their eggs outside the anus, not into the stool. A piece of cellotape is pressed against the skin around the anus and then removed. The tape needs to be stuck to a microscopic slide and then a specialist has to analyse the sample, which is a different test to ours.