A variety of parasites can cause infections of the digestive system (gastrointestinal (GI) infections). An ova and parasite (O&P) exam is a microscopic evaluation of a stool sample that is used to look for parasites that may infect the lower digestive tract, causing symptoms such as diarrhea. The parasites and their eggs (ova) are shed from the lower digestive tract into the stool.
When thin smears of fresh or preserved stool are put onto glass slides and stained, the parasites and/or their ova or cysts, the form in which the parasite is surrounded by a resistant cover or capsule, can be detected and identified under the microscope by a trained laboratorian. Different ova and parasites have distinct shapes, sizes, and internal structures that are characteristic of their species.
There are a wide variety of parasites that can infect humans. Each type of parasite has a specific life cycle and maturation process and may live in one or more hosts. Some parasites spend part of their life in an intermediate host, such as a sheep, cow, or snail, before infecting humans. Some infect humans "by accident." There are parasites that consist of a single cell while others are worms (helminths). Most parasites have more than one form through which they develop. Many have a mature form and a cyst and/or egg (ova) form. Some also have a larval phase, which is between the egg and the mature form. Ova are hardy and can exist for some time in the environment without living in a host and remain infectious.
The majority of people who are infected by gastrointestinal parasites become infected by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated with the ova. (For more details, read Food and Waterborne Illness.) Ova and parasites from infected people or animals are released in the stool and can then contaminate any water, food, or surfaces that come into contact with them. This contamination cannot be seen; the food and water will look, smell, and taste completely normal. People who ingest contaminated food or water can become infected and, without careful sanitation (hand washing and care with food preparation), the infection may be passed on to others.
Parasitic infections are especially a concern for certain groups such as infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. In these populations, a parasitic infection can result in serious symptoms and complications.
The most common symptoms of a parasitic infection are prolonged diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, mucus in stool, abdominal pain, and nausea. These symptoms typically arise days to weeks after exposure and persist. Some people may also have headaches and fever; others may have few or no noticeable symptoms.
No special preparation is needed for Parasite Stool Test. Inform your doctor if you are on any medications or have any underlying medical conditions or allergies before undergoing Parasite Stool Test. Your doctor depending on your condition will give specific instructions.
|UNISEX||All age groups||The parasite is identified in positive cases for an infection|