Trichomonas vaginalis

Of the three trichomonads infecting humans, only T. vaginalis is generally regarded as pathogenic. Little is known about Trichomonas tenax inhabiting the oral cavity and the position is not entirely clear regarding the intestinal parasite Trichomonas hominis. The latter is often recovered from diarrhoeic stool but is considered non-pathogenic.

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The usual method of diagnosing T. vaginalis infection is by direct microscopy of vaginal secretion or, in infection in the male, by microscopy of urethral secretion or urine sediment especially after prostatic massage. However, direct microscopy has a sensitivity of only between 40 and 80%. Staining, for example, with acridine orange does not increase this appreciably. Fluorescent antibody techniques have a higher sensitivity than other direct methods (Lossick and Kent 1991) but culture is most sensitive (>95%).

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