Parasite Identification Unit
(THIS UNIT PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR RESEARCH, SPECIAL PROJECTS, AND TRAINING IN DIAGNOSTIC PARASITOLOGY)
Because of the shortage of diagnostic laboratories with strong diagnostic capability for parasite identification, the Center has established a Parasite Identification Unit to provide services in Parasitic Diseases Identification and/or Training in Diagnostic Parasitology. In the present world environment, such a capability is extremely important. The Center can provide training in diagnostic procedures for personnel responsible for Parasitic Disease Diagnosis in remote localities throughout the world. It also has the capability of serving as a support to Diagnostic Units, groups engaged in parasitic studies, or organizations located anywhere in the world that have a need for parasitic disease identification. The limiting factors are their capability to properly collect, preserve, and transport specimens to the Center and to receive information and reports. The latter can be accomplished through E-mail or FAX. Such a service for intestinal parasitic infections could be especially valuable for personnel in military units who are presently stationed in localities where parasitic diseases are highly endemic. It would be difficult for personnel stationed in Djibouti on the horn of Africa, Yemen, or Afghanistan to find good parasite identification capability. It can provide training in diagnostic parasitology for personnel working in hospitals or clinics in remote areas of Central or South America. Parasitic diseases are generally unpleasant and can cause severe damage over time, therefore, it is important that parasitic infections be identified and treated. Since they are rarely life threatening, usually it would be safe to collect, prepare, and send a specimen to the Center for identification and receive a reply with the results and the recommendations for treatment. In most cases, this would allow treatment to take place without the need to evacuate the infected person and bring in a replacement. If symptoms are severe, of course, evacuation may be necessary, but it is expected that such cases would be rare.
Before being designated as a Center, the Parasite Repository and Education Laboratory engaged in endemicity studies and offered consultation and backup to physicians and organizations on parasitic diseases. The laboratory functioned as backup for the College of Public Health's research project in Honduras. USF is working currently in Kyrgyzstan to develop a primary care and public health workforce and may use the Center for support for parasitic disease identification and/or for training personnel. As the Center develops, this Unit is expected to expand greatly because of its unique capabilities.