In this era of shrinking globe with people traveling for business or pleasure to the remotest areas; engaging in hobbies as trekking, mountain climbing, rafting; frequent restaurant use by two working people families (food handlers and preparers are often from third world countries and never have had their stools checked); immigration of foreign nationals, nannies and cooks from underdeveloped countries; and the American passion for consumption of “out of season” fruits and vegetables (often from Central or South America); It is extremely useful to always take Travel and Exposure history to evaluate every patient at a new visit for parasites.”

High Risk Groups For Parasite Infections

  • U.S. Citizens who travel abroad
  • Foreign nationals or recent immigrants (including nannies, housekeepers and cooks)
  • People with a history of well, stream, or lake water ingestion, after skiing in Colorado or Vermont
  • People who frequent restaurants because food handlers/preparers come from endemic areas, are never tested, and don't wash their hands properly
  • People whose meals include fresh produce and fruits (out of season) coming from endemic areas
  • People who own pets who are permitted to lick them

Symptoms of a Parasite Infection

  • Do you have diarrhea or constipation frequently?
  • Do you have abdominal cramps or pains?
  • Do you suffer from bloating or nausea?
  • Have you lost weight without trying?
  • Have you recently had unexplained recurrent headaches?
  • Do you suffer from chronic fatigue or depression?
  • Have you noticed blood or mucus in your stool?
  • Have you had hives, skin rashes or joint pains?

Intestinal infections are often misdiagnosed as:

These hard to diagnose, pernicious infections can masquerade as headache, hives, arthritis, depression, loss of energy, food or milk intolerance, presumptive diagnoses off irritable bowel syndrome, acute Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, proctitis, coeliac disease, cancer of the colon, failure to thrive as well as causing unexplained exacerbations of any of these diseases or syndromes.

Thinking of intestinal infections early in all of the above clinical situations and ordering a thorough stool exam for all relevant possible pathogens is an efficient way of making a definitive diagnosis, quickly rendering effective treatment, and avoiding the need for more expensive, invasive tests.

Jetti Katz Tropical Medicine Lab is one of the only three laboratories in the country which performs accurate stool parasite testing (C.D.C. Mayo Clinic).