Is a Stool Ova and Parasites Exam?
A stool ova and parasites exam involves a laboratory analysis of
a stool sample to check for parasites. Parasites are organisms that can live
inside a host (the human body) and cause infections in the intestines.
Your doctor can obtain valuable information about your stomach,
digestion, intestines, rectum and other areas of the gastrointestinal tract
from the stool test.
Is the Test Performed?
Your doctor may order this exam if you have symptoms that point
to a possible parasitic infection. Usually, these symptoms include stomach
pain, diarrhea, nausea, and blood or mucus in your stool. Fever and headache
can also accompany the abdominal symptoms.
The test also may be ordered if you recently drank untreated
water or visited a developing country where you may have been exposed to a
parasitic infection. Children should probably be tested if other children at
their schools or daycare centers have been ill with parasites.
Is the Test Performed?
A stool sample test causes no discomfort. Your doctor will
provide you with a kit containing plastic wrap to loosely place over the
toilet. This should be held in place by the toilet seat. A special toilet
tissue is also provided. You will use this to put the sample in a sterile
container. Try not to urinate at the same time, as this may contaminate the
sample. If the sample is being collected from a child in diapers, the diaper
can be lined with the plastic wrap.
Once you have collected your stool sample, you need to drop it
off at your doctor’s office or a laboratory. It is best to take it there right
away so that the test is accurate. The lab will analyze the sample under a
microscope, looking for parasites. The laboratory will then give the results to
your doctor, who will share them with you.
There are no risks involved with testing.
Do You Prepare for The Test?
In general, you do not need to do anything to prepare for this
test. In some cases, your doctor may request that you stop taking certain
medications for up to two weeks before the test, since they can alter the results.
These might include antacids, anti-diarrhea drugs, laxatives, antibiotics, and
You should also tell your doctor about any other medications you
take, and whether you recently had any imaging tests that used contrast or dye.
The dye also may interfere with the parasite exam results.
What Do the Results of Stool Ova Parasite Testing Mean?
Your doctor will contact you to set up an appointment so you can
go over your results.
Normal results means there was no parasites or parasite eggs
found in the stool sample. In this case, a parasite infection is an unlikely
cause of your symptoms.
An abnormal result means parasites or eggs have been found in the
stool sample and you have a parasitic infestation. There are over 100 different
known parasites in the world. Some infections include:
- giardiasis: an infection contracted by drinking
water from lakes and streams where animals — like beavers and muskrats — contaminate
- amebiasis: an infection spread through
contaminated food and water, mostly seen in tropical areas with poor sanitation
such as Africa, Mexico, and South America
- strongyloidiasis: an infection spread through
contact with soil that contains roundworms, mostly found in warm, moist areas
- taeniasis: a type of tapeworm infection that is
caused by eating infected meat, such as beef
Your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on the type of
parasite that is found in your stool. Most parasitic infections can be treated
with prescription medication. Your symptoms should go away several weeks after
you start treatment.