Introduction

Definitive diagnosis of a parasitic infection is by finding and identifying the parasite. Of the newer methods for parasite detection, those using gene technology are not yet available for general use in the routine laboratory and labelled monoclonal antibody techniques are costly and available for some species only. Thus, routine investigation is still mainly dependent on microscopy. Culture is used occasionally. The proper use of both internal and external quality control programmes is vital. Although equipment needs for basic parasitology are modest, laboratories carrying out culture, for example, for Acanthamoeba, or handling highly infectious material will need a Class 2 biological safety cabinet or bench. The single most important instrument in routine parasitology is a binocular microscope with high quality optics. A properly calibrated eyepiece micrometer is essential. It should also be used. Some staining methods require the use of a fluorescence microscope and for Acanthamoeba culture an inverted microscope is needed. As many of the reagents used are highly inflammable or toxic, an efficiently ventilated fume hood is essential for specimen preparation and staining and a fume extraction device over the centrifuge is desirable. A swing-out centrifuge is preferable to an angle model. Laboratories carrying out culture methods will need incubators.

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