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Veterinarian Technician April 2005 (Vol 26, No 4)

Step By Step: Centrifugal Flotation—Detecting Common Parasite Eggs

by Ed Robinson, AS, BA

    Centrifugal flotation is the best method of detecting common para­sites in companion and exotic animals. However, this method requires several items that are not commonly thought to be part of the veterinary laboratory. Becoming familiar with the technique of centrifugal flotation can help veterinary technicians better detect com­mon parasite eggs found in feces but not always seen in fecal flotation.

    Click to download step-by-step PDF. .

    With the diagnosis of roundworm infection in 10,000 or more humans each year, the public is becoming more aware of the zoonotic potential of some common animal parasites. Increased public awareness makes the technician's job of parasite detection more vital to the practice. This in turn makes the method used to detect the parasite ova more important.

    Although fecal flotation is the most common method of parasite detection used in the clinic, it is not always accurate in detecting all types of parasites. This method takes a lot of time (for set up, to allow the parasite ova to float, and then to examine the specimen under a microscope). The centri­fugal flotation technique, on the other hand, is a more efficient way to re­cover parasite ova. It takes less time than the fecal flotation method and can be used to detect parasite ova that may not necessarily float using a regular flotation technique. However, heavier eggs, such as operculated eggs, and trophozoite stages of protozoa cannot be detected using this method.

    When performing the centrifugal flotation technique, it is important not to place your fingers on the coverslip. The coverslip should be handled by the sides because oils from your fingers can transfer to the coverslip, thereby preventing the parasite ova from adhering to it. When using this technique, at least 2 g of feces are needed to obtain an accurate result. A sample taken with a fecal loop cannot provide enough feces for accurate results.


    The author thanks Margi Sirois, MS, RVT, EdD, who is affiliated with Education Direct in Scranton, Pennsylvania, for her tutelage as a professor in parasitology and Kathy Clark, DVM, and the staff of Twin City Animal Hospital in Newington, Connecticut, for the use of their facility in acquiring the photographs for this article.

    1. Hendrix CM: Diagnostic Veterinary Parasitology, ed 2. Philadelphia, Mosby, 1998, pp 253-254.

    2. Sirois M: Principles and Practice of Veterinary Technology, ed 2. St. Louis, Mosby, 2004, pp 291-292.

    References »

    NEXT: Tech Tips (April 2005)


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