We cannot offer a complete list of parasites because of their vast number.But the laboratory uses a special concentration method and will find any worm eggs, lavae and protozoen cysts and consequently identify the species. If the staff is in any doubt, they consult associated specialists.
Protozoa (in Greek proto = first and zoa = animals) are one-celled eukaryotes (that is,
unicellular microbes whose cells have membrane-bound nuclei).
Some protozoa have the ability to form cysts to protect them from harsh conditions, allowing
them to survive exposure to extreme temperatures or harmful chemicals or without food,
water, or oxygen for a period of time. For parasitic species the cysts will also enable them to
survive outside of the host, allowing them to be transferred from one host to another. This
ability to form cysts also ensures their suvival in a stool sample.
Intestinal entamoeba: Entamoeba is a genus of Amoebozoa found as internal parasites or
commensals of animals. Several species are found in humans. Entamoeba histolytica is the
pathogen responsible for amoebiasis (which includes amoebic dysentery and amoebic liver
abscesses), while others such as Entamoeba coli and E. dispar are harmless. With the
exception of Entamoeba gingivalis, which lives in the mouth, and E. moshkovskii, which is
frequently isolated from river and lake sediments, all Entamoeba species are found in the
intestines of the animals they infect.
Dientamöba fragilis: Ever since its first description in 1918, Dientamoeba fragilis has
struggled to gain recognition as a significant pathogen. There is little justification for this
neglect, however, since there exists a growing body of case reports from numerous countries
around the world that have linked this protozoal parasite to clinical manifestations such as
diarrhea, abdominal pain, flatulence, and anorexia.
Blastocystis hominis: Blastocystis is a highly prevalent single-celled parasite that infects the
gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. Many different types of Blastocystis exist, and
they can infect humans, farm animals, birds, rodents, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and even
cockroaches. Infection with Blastocystis can produce the disease Blastocystosis. The most
frequently described symptoms of Blastocystosis are abdominal pain, constipation and
Cryptosporidium: Cryptosporidium is a protozoan pathogen of the Phylum Apicomplexa and
causes a diarrheal illness called cryptosporidiosis.
Cyclospora cayetanensis: Cyclospora cayetanensis is a protozoan that causes disease in
humans, and perhaps other primates. It is sometimes referred to as the “yuppie disease” due to
outbreaks in the United States from fecally-contaminated imported raspberries and was
virtually unknown before about 1990, but has been on the rise since. The health risk
associated with the disease is usually confined to adult foreigners visiting endemic regions
and acquiring the infection. This is why C. cayetanensis has been labeled as causing
“traveler’s diarrhea.” Due to its small size, intracellular habitat, and inability to properly
uptake many histological stains, diagnosis of Cyclospora cayetanensis can be very difficult.
Giardia lamblia: Giardia lamblia (synonymous with Lamblia intestinalis and Giardia
duodenalis) is a flagellated protozoan parasite that colonises and reproduces in the small
intestine, causing giardiasis. The giardia parasite attaches to the epithelium. Giardiasis does
not disseminate haematogenously, nor does it spread to other parts of the gastro-intestinal
tract, but remains confined to the lumen of the small intestine. Giardia trophozoites absorb
their nutrients from the lumen of the small intestine, and are anaerobes. Colonisation of the
gut results in inflammation and villous atrophy, reducing the gut’s absorptive capability. In
humans, infection is symptomatic about 50% of the time
Isospora belli: Isosporiasis is a human intestinal disease caused by a parasite called Isospora
belli. Symptoms include diarrhea and weight loss. It is sometimes associated with AIDS.
Sarcocystis: This parasite’s life cycle is heteroxenous, meaning that it has more than one
obligatory host in its life cycle. Sarcocystis relies on the predator-prey relationship of animals.
Oocysts are passed through the feces of an infected individual where it undergoes sporogony
and becomes infected itself. Intermediate hosts can be cows or pigs. Human infection is rare
but can happen when undercooked meat is ingested. Symptoms include diarrhea, which may
be mild and transient or severe and life threatening. Human outbreaks have occurred in
Trematodes: Liver and gut flukes
Fasciolopsis buski: often referred to as the giant intestinal fluke, is a parasite of
Fasciola hepatica: Known as the common liver fluke or sheep liver fluke, is a parasitic
flatworm of the class Trematoda that infects the liver of a various
mammals, including man.
Dicrocoelium dendriticum: The Lancet liver fluke (Dicrocoelium dendriticum) is a parasite
fluke that tends to live in cattle or other grazing mammals.
Echinostoma ilocanum: Intestinal fluke which is a common infection in South-East Asia
where they have a high prevalence (from 1 to 30%).The infections are
acquired by eating raw or undercooked freshwater snails, clams, and
fish containing the metacercariae.
Echinostoma lindoense: The Echinostomes are a large group of flukes. The lifecycle has a
snail first intermediate host (as with all the Digenean flukes), usually
followed by a fish second intermediate host, although in some species
this may be an amphibian of another mollusc. A number of these
parasites have been reported in man, either as a natural parasite, or more
commonly as accidental infections.
Gastrodiscoides hominis: Member of the Digenean fluke family, found in Vietnam,
Philippines, Bangladesh and the Assam region of India
Watsonius watsoni: A trematode found in the intestinal wall of some primates. Causes
mucohemorrhagic diarrhea, hepatomegaly, ascites and urinary tract disease.
Nanophyetus salmincola: Human nanophyetiasis is a zoonotic disease recently recognized in
the coastal US Pacific Northwest and is caused by the trematode Nanophyetus
Metorchis conjunctus: Metorchis conjunctus is North American in distribution and the
metacercariae are unusual because they can withstand periods of freezing. In northern
communities where dogs are frequently fed rough fish, such as suckers, Metorchis can
pose a serious health problem to the dogs. Humans also can become infected. It’s life
cycle and pathology are similar to the Chinese liver fluke, Clonorchis sinensis.
Opisthorchis viverrini und felineus: These are trematode parasites that attack the area of the
bile duct. Opisthorchis viverrini infection predisposes for cholangiocarcinoma, a
cancer of the gall bladder and/or its ducts.
Clonorchis (Opisthorchis) sinensins: This is a human liver fluke in the class Trematoda. This
parasite lives in the liver of humans, and is found mainly in the common bile duct and
gall bladder, feeding on bile. These flukes which are believed to be the third most
prevalent worm parasite in the world, are endemic to Japan, China, Taiwan, and
Southeast Asia, currently infecting an estimated 30,000,000 humans.
Metagonimus yokogawai: A minute intestinal fluke, the smallest human fluke.The main
symptoms are diarrhea and colicky abdominal pain. Migration of the eggs to
extraintestinal sites (heart, brain) can occur, with resulting symptoms.
Heterophyes heterophyes: A fluke found in the Nile delta region of Egypt,
parts of Turkey, and some foci in the Far East (Japan, Central and Southern
China and Philippines)
Intestinal bilharziosis: The bilharziosis parasites (schistosoma) are sanguinary, minute flat
worms to be found in great quantities in blood vessels of the abdomen. Five of the species are
pathogenic for humans. The initial clinical manifestations of the disease, which they give rise
to, Schistosomiasis, are either cystic or intestinal. Other organs are invaded by the eggs of
these worms, the liver and the spleen being privileged targets.Known since very ancient times
and widespread in the tropics, where it affects some 300 million individuals, Schistosomiasis
figures among the most virulent epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies and South
Intestinal nematodes: Roundworms
The nematodes or roundworms (Phylum Nematoda) are one of the most common phyla of
animals, with over 80,000 different described species (over 15,000 are parasitic).
Parasitic forms often have quite complicated life cycles, moving between several different
hosts or locations in the host’s body. Infection occurs variously by eating uncooked meat with
larvae in it, by entrance into unprotected cuts or directly through the skin, by transfer via
blood-sucking insects, and so forth.
However, it can be difficult to find some of these species in a stool sample.
Instead these roundworms can be collected seperately with sticky tape from the anus area.
They tend to migrate out of the anus over night and can be collected from there in the
These are highly infectious and strict hygiene has to be observed.
Ascaris lumbricoides: (Roundworm) Infections with these parasites are more common
where sanitation is poor and human feces are used as fertilizer.
Enterobius vermicularis: Human pinworm, also known as threadworm.
The pinworm lives in the lower part of the small intestine, and the upper part of the
colon. It is found worldwide and causes the common infection enterobiasis in humans.
It is frequent in children. Unlike many other intestinal parasites, the pinworm does not
usually enter the bloodstream or any other organs besides the intestines. Only in rare
cases disoriented pinworms can be found in the vagina, and even more rarely in the
uterus, fallopian tubes, liver and peritoneum; but the worms cannot survive long in
Except for itching, pinworm infestation does not usually cause any damage to the
body. Sleep disturbance may arise from the itching or crawling sensations.
(For this worm a sticky tape sample from the anus is required.)
Strongyloides stercoralis: human parasitic roundworm causing the disease of strongyloidiasis.
Ternidens deminutus: The nematode Ternidens deminutus belongs to the Chabertiidae. The
parasite is related to Oesophagostomum sp. Infection is not infrequent, but only occurs
in specific areas. Its distribution includes Asia and Africa, chiefly in Zimbabwe. The
normal hosts are various monkeys.
Trichiuris trichiura: (Whipworm) Light infestations are frequently asymptomatic, heavy
infestations may have bloody diarrhea and long-standing blood loss may lead to irondeficiency
anemia. Whipworm commonly infects patients also infected with Giardia,
Entamoeba histolytica, Ascaris lumbricoides, and hookworms.
Trichinella spiralis: The small adult worms mature in the intestine of an intermediate host
such as a pig. Each adult female produces batches of live larvae, which bore through the
intestinal wall, enter the blood and lymphatic system, and are carried to striated muscle tissue.
Once in the muscle, they encyst, or become enclosed in a capsule.
Larvae encysted in the muscles remain viable for some time. When the muscle tissue is eaten
by a human, the cysts are digested in the stomach; the released larvae migrate to the intestine
to begin a new life cycle. Female trichina worms live about six weeks and in that time may
release larvae. The migration and encystment of larvae can cause fever, pain, and even death.
One of the classic signs of Trichinella spiralis infection is a combination of splinter
hemorrhages (not to be confused with those of bacterial endocarditis) and periorbital edema
(eye swelling). Trichina are classified in the phylum Nematoda.
Black scour worms occur in all sheep production districts of Australia.
It can also be found as a gut nematode in the United Kingdom. On its own it would be
unusual to get high enough numbers to cause problems but the worm is sometimes found in
mixed infections with other worms.
Parasites which might be missed in a stool sample
Tape worms (cestodes)
When humans are the primary host, the adult cestode is limited to the intestinal tract. When
humans are the intermediate hosts, the larvae are within the tissues, migrating through the
different organ systems.
Many cestode infestations are asymptomatic at first. However, once symptoms occur, they are
usually vague GI complaints such as abdominal pain, anorexia, weight loss, or general
Unfortunately with intestinal tapeworms, the release of egg containing parts (proglottida) is
only intermittent. There might be samples without any traces. But the tapeworm parts can be
seen with the naked eye as little moving white worm like bits in the stool.
The stool has to be observed in case of a suspicion.
Diphyllobothrium latum : Fish tape worm
Taenia solium: Pig tape worm
Taenia saginata: Cattle tape worm
Dipylidium caninum: Cucumber tapeworm or the double-pore tapeworm,
Vampirolepsis nana: Vampirolepis nana, the mouse tapeworm, is the most common cestode
in humans especially children. Domestic mice and rats can serve as definitive hosts for
Hymenolepsis diminuta: Hymenolepsis diminuta is primarily a tapeworm of rodents. Humans
are infected following the accidental ingestion of arthropods containing the
cysticercoid stage of the parasite.
Rare tape worms:
Mesocestoides: Humans can experience severe diarrhoea with intestinal infections
Raillietina celebensis: (no common name)
Inermicapsifer madagascariensis: Cestode often seen as human infection in Cuba in children
1 –3 years old; causes vague intestinal symptoms; suspected arthropod vector; proglottids,
eggs, and egg capsules resemble those of Raillietina spp.