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Diagnostic Parasitology Laboratory (DPL)

The Diagnostic Parasitology Laboratory (DPL) supports the USGS National Wildlife Health Center’s diagnostic investigations and conducts research. A variety of procedures are used to identify eukaryotic parasites, including the use of morphological characters, dichotomous taxonomic keys, and DNA sequence analysis.

Parasitology Laboratory Capabilities

Laboratory diagnostic procedures:

  • Processing of protozoal, helminth, or ectoparasites of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and fish for identification using morphological characters and by PCR amplification/DNA sequencing of a variety of genes.
  • Fecal and blood tests for identification of parasites.
  • Collection and examination of intermediate and definitive hosts for identification of larval and adult stages of parasites.
  • Identification of parasites in H&E tissue sections.
  • Archiving parasite specimens for reference and study. NWHC collection has over 13,000 specimens for comparison and study.

 

Parasitology Diagnostic Services

The following is a reference guide to commonly requested services.  It is not a full list of testing capabilities of the laboratories. Determination of which test or screen will be run on any given submission will be based on case history, gross findings at necropsy, and the scientific judgment of the case pathologist.

Parasitology Diagnostic Services
Test Test Method Approx. Turnaround Time
Coccidia Screen Sheather's exam; some helminth ova may also be observed 24 hours to 2 weeks
Coccidia Sporulation Varies, usually potassium dichromate sporulation 24 hours to 2 weeks
Hematozoa Glemsa stain of blood smear; microfilariae may also be detected 24 hours to 2 weeks
Gross parasite identification Gross/dissection/microscopic examinations with identification to various taxonomic levels 24 hours to 2 weeks
Tissue exam for parasites Gross/dissection/microscopic examinations with identification to various taxonomic levels 24 hours to 2 weeks
Myxozoa Dissection/Microscopic examinations 24 hours to 2 weeks