How do you know if you have picked parasites overseas?

Here in Australia , you would be surprised how common parasitic infections are. Unwelcome guests such as Blastocystis hominis ,  Dentamoeba fragilis, Giardia  and Cryptospridium are often picked up during overseas travel, but they are also here too. Parasites like gardia and Blastocystis can be found in unhygienic environments such as untreated water sources and rivers. Other parasites like cryptospridium can be passed feces to oral route and from infected animals.  If you are not careful when a member of the family is infected the parasites  can quickly find a home in the whole family , which is why it is prudent to consider treating the whole family not just the symptomatic person otherwise you may find the more vulnerable such as children may get reinfected by an asymptomatic parent or pet.

Here are some common symptoms associated with parasite infections. It may be prudent to see a health practitioner for a diagnosis and further testing if you experience some of these after travelling overseas,  after food poisoning or the symptoms just come on and you don’t know why.

history of food poisoning
Difficult falling asleep and waking up frequently
unexplained skin rashes , hives and maybe itchy
watery diarrhoea , however sometimes it is constipation that is experienced or with alternating mushy stools
bloating and abdominal cramps
apathy and fatigue
never feeling full or satisfied after meals
iron-deficiency anaemia
grinding of teeth in sleep

A cluster of signs and symptoms  may suggest parasite infections and an experienced practitioner can discern likelihood of infection based on your history and onset of symptoms. However PCR tests are the best way to confirm a suspicion of parasite infection.

For example ask you GP about the PCR test

  • Laverty Pathology (Sydney & ACT) has introduced a Faecal Multiplex PCR for the detection of ten major enteric pathogens’ [Detects Salmonella sp, Campylobacter sp, Shigella sp, Yersinia enterocolitica, Aeromonas sp, Giardia sp, Entamoeba histolytica, Dientamoeba sp, Blastocystis sp and Cryptosporidium sp.] (see website page for more details)
  • Douglas Hanly Moir Pathology in NSW, also perform Multiplex PCR testing for Blasto., D.fragilis and other pathogenic organisms.

I don’t believe these are fully covered by medicare and some patients may find the  stool sample tests are cheaper. According to the information on The accuracy of stool sample tests can be around 80% and test kits with fixative to preserve parasites improves accuracy. BTW this is a great with great research and links to references if you want to delve in more detail.

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