How to Precisely Dissect and Analyze a Turd

By Breanna Draxler | December 28, 2012 4:10 pm

Figure 2. Processing of stool samples according to consistency including whole-stool homogenization. Sausage-shaped-but-soft samples were processed like in (A) without taking samples from the center.

Hundreds of millions of people suffer from parasitic infections, like hookworm. And how do doctors diagnose these infections? Stool samples.

An accurate diagnosis is key for doctors to better understand and treat parasitic worms. The current diagnosing method relies on counting worm eggs in stool samples, but doctors often miss infections if they are mild or unevenly distributed throughout a sample.

Scientists in Côte d’Ivoire set out to see how they could improve the diagnosing process. The researchers necessarily have a sense of humor about their study, which they titled “An In-Depth Analysis of a Piece of Shit,” published in PLoS Neglected Tropial Diseases last week.

The researchers found that homogenizing the stool samples made for more accurate egg counts with particular infections, and that storing stool samples on ice or covered with a wet tissue prevented the decay of certain worm eggs. Their findings may help doctors better identify, treat and control the spread of these serious infections. Their turd-dissection diagrams are pretty entertaining as well.

Image courtesy of Stefanie J. Krauth et al.

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