Parasitic infections and fatalities related to it have been on a rise for a long time now. The number of cases of hospitalization seen by the USA has also increased to more than 1000 cases per year. Parasites like Trichomonas have affected around 3.7 million people in the USA. The numbers may look worrisome but thankfully all these cases are easily detectable and preventable.
Once you start developing the symptoms, then the next step is to get yourself tested to diagnose the type of parasite you might be infected with. The diagnosis further helps you lay down a pathway to your recovery with the help of appropriate consultation and medications.
Diagnosis of such parasitic infection may be difficult to detect at first, but thanks to modern-day science, we have an ample number of tests in place to track down the disease.
By this blog, we aim to throw some light on the different tests that your healthcare provider can offer you in case you have been infected by a parasite. Knowing about these tests would put you in a comfortable position if at any time you come in contact with any parasitic infection. Let’s discuss these tests in detail now.
What are the different types of tests used to detect a parasitic infection?
Different parasitic infections may require different ranges of tests to be done. We have prepared a comprehensive list of all these tests below.
1. Fecal or stool test (also known as Ova and Parasite test)
The stool test is done to detect the parasites that are responsible for causing:
- Loose and runny stools
- Abdominal pains and vomiting
- Cramping of muscles
- Gas related problems (indigestion)
The diagnostic center will collect 3-4 samples of your stool to check if you have the presence of eggs or ova of the parasite in your fecal matter.
There are some things that you need to keep in mind for storing your stool sample.
- You need to store the fecal matter in a container that has preservative fluids
- in the absence of preservative fluids, one needs to refrigerate the specimen until the lab personnel comes to take it.
Once you have given your sample to the lab personnel, your doctor would instruct them to conduct a general or special test to figure out the possibility of parasites.
One of the best tool tests recommended to people with parasitic infections is ‘The CDSA Test x 3 (Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis)‘. The test is one of the most comprehensive tests available and aims to tracks down the cause of your uneasiness. It targets the root cause of the problem directly. The test reveals a plethora of factors affecting your gut health:
- Bacteriology culture
- Yeast culture
- Parasitology microscopy
- Giardia and cryptosporidium assay
- Digestion & absorption markers (elastase, fat stain, muscle & vegetable fibers, carbs)
- Inflammatory markers (lysozyme, lactoferrin, white blood cells, mucus)
- Immunology (secretory IgA – sIgA)
- Short-chain fatty acids (the end product of bacterial fermentation of beneficial bacteria in the bowel)
- Intestinal health markers (red blood cells, pH, occult blood)
- Macroscopic (visual) appearance
A lot of difficult cases of parasitic goes undetected from the regular fecal tests. CDSA test ensures that there are no lapses when it comes to your health. It’s the best choice for any fecal tests.
2. Endoscopy and Colonoscopy
Some parasitic infections cannot be tracked by a stool test. In such cases the doctors recommend the patients to go through an endoscopy or a colonoscopy.
Endoscopy and colonoscopy can help to identify parasites by producing:
- High definition images
- Super magnified images
The endoscopy/colonoscopy is conducted by:
- Inserting a tube through the mouth/rectum.
- The doctor navigates the tube into your intestine to check the infected organ.
- Once the signs and symptoms are checked in the organ, the doctor ascertains the disease and prescribes you a suitable medication.
Capsule endoscopy is an innovation through which intestinal parasites can be identified.
3. Blood Test
Blood tests are a common way to detect what’s going on inside your system. A blood test helps you identify the parasite corrupting your body functions.
Your health practitioner can call for two types of blood tests:
- Serology- Serology is done to check the presence of antibodies in your body fluids that may have been formed to fight any infection. The blood test is prescribed by your doctor and it is tested by the diagnostic test center.
- Blood Smear- In a blood smear test, your blood is drawn out and a stained thin layer of it is put under the microscope to check the presence of parasitic diseases. Diseases like malaria, filariasis, etc can be check by a blood smear test.
A blood test may not be an exhaustive test but it surely helps out possibilities of various parasitic infection.
3. X-ray, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, Computerized Axial Tomography scan (CAT)
A study was done by Pablo Rodríguez Carnero and his colleagues showcased how parasitic infections can be detected by using imaging techniques. Some of the highlights of the study say that:
- Amoebiasis can be detected by an MRI scan. The MRI scan can intricately show the liver lesions caused by the disease.
- If toxoplasmosis infected our brain, an MRI scan can detect the cysts.
- Chagas disease can also be tracked in the gastric system by the use of imaging techniques.
- Clonorchiasis caused by flukes can be ascertained by the images produced by CAT scan.
These were some of the most clinically prominent tests that can help you diagnose your parasitic infections.
What is the cost of the parasite tests and how long does it take to get the results?
Before you go ahead with the testing of parasites. It is important to know the cost associated with it.
Here is a list of the major tests and their cost:
1. Stool test/ Ova and parasite test
- Cost-$70-$90 per test
- The average time taken for results- 5-7 days
2. Blood test
- Cost-$100-$3000 per test (Depends on the specifics of the test)
- The average time taken for results- 1-2 days
- Cost-$2100-$3700 per test (For uninsured people) $0-$1000 per test (For insured people)
- The average time taken for results- The procedure is not long and takes almost 30 minutes but the results are available after 2-3 weeks.
- Cost-$2500-$2700 per test
- The average time taken for results- 3-4 days
5. MRI Test
- Cost-$200-$3000 per test
- The average time taken for results- Within an hour or the same day
6. CAT Scan
- $270-$5000 per test
- The average time taken for results- Within 24 hours
The pricing listed above is dynamic and subject to change. It is recommended to check the latest price with your diagnostic center.
Which is the best clinical test to check for parasites?
Ova and parasite test is the best way to know if you have been infected by a parasite. It is the most recommended way of testing because:
- It is a non-invasive way to check for diseases.
- It can be used for children.
- It checks for infections caused by contaminates soil, water and food.
- It rules out a list of diseases like diahrea, nausea, gas, fever, abdominal pain, etc.
- There are no known side effects of stool testing.
Eric Bakker’s CDSA Test x 3 (Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis) is one of the best stool tests in the market and if you want a comprehensive result then you should definitely go for it!
A negative result means that you are clean and no parasites have infected your system. However, a positive result will show the number and types of parasites plaguing your system.
Does health insurance cover the cost of parasite testing?
Public medical labs may cover the cost of blood and stool test. However, the private health membership and associations do not provide such benefits. The reimbursement through mediclaim and medicare is not possible if you are testing with the private health care providers in the market.
Parasitic infections and DNA and PCR Testing
For DNA and PCR testing, the body needs to have a minimum number of organisms for the test to turn positive. If these test turn out positive then we might not know the type of parasite that has infected our body. There have been cases of non-detection also through these tests.
Once you are through with these test, the next step is to consult your doctor to get an in-depth view of what has been going on in your system. These tests would ensure that no parasites infecting your system gets away undetected.
Parasitic infections can hamper your lifestyle in an irreversible way. Getting these test done at the right time and from the right labs is the most crucial thing in your recovery process.
Make an informed decision because health is truly your wealth!