What is the Microfilaria Parasite Test?

Microfilaria test helps in the detection and identification of microfilaria in blood. As the microfilaria appears at night, this test is performed at a specific time in the day or night. 

Microfilaria refers to the larvae of parasitic nematodes. (early larval stage). Adult parasites release these larvae into the bloodstream. So any infected person will contain embryonic larvae. These parasites cause diseases such as elephantiasis, loa loa filariasis, and river blindness. 

Blood from suspected patients are collected either from the earlobe, venous blood, or finger prick. There are several ways to identify the occurrence of these parasites in the body. These tests include using thin blood smear test, thick blood smear test, quantitative blood count, membrane filtration method.



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      Frequently Asked Questions:

      What is the microfilaria test used for?

      The standard method used for detecting active infection by microfilaria is by identifying microfilaria in blood by microscopic examination. Lymphatic filariasis causing microfilariae occurs in large numbers at night (nocturnal periodicity), a blood smear of the suspected patients helps in identifying the larvae.

      How are the results of the microfilaria parasite test understood?

      A microfilaria test is done by drawing the blood of suspected patients. The Microhematocrit tube is filled and spun down. The tubes are laid on the microscopic stage. The Buffy coat is focused on 10x power. Results are considered positive if you can visualize circulating and squirming microfilaria larvae.

      Why do I need a microfilaria parasite test?

      Lymphatic filariasis causes abnormal enlargement of body parts and causes severe pain in those regions. Severe disability also follows and there is a social stigma attached to it. Microfilarial test is a diagnostic test that aids in providing clear evidence for filarial infection. It also helps in knowing the size and morphology of the larvae which helps in identifying the species. This helps in better treatment.

      What happens during the Microfilaria Parasite Test?

      Microfilaria test is generally conducted at night which is the time at which microfilariae appear and a number of microfilaria is larger at that time. Blood samples are collected by trained personnel from fingertips, earlobes, or through venous blood. Detection of filariasis requires the examination of blood smear presence of larval roundworm B.malayi and W.bancrofti.

      Is microfilaria contagious?

      Yes, microfilaria is contagious. Filaria caused by larvae of nematodes is spread from person to person mosquito bites. When the mosquito bites a person suffering from filariasis, the microfilaria present in the blood in the patient enters the mosquito matures in it, and when a healthy individual is bitten by the same mosquito, he/she contracts filariasis.

      What are the symptoms of microfilaria?

      Symptoms of filariasis include:

      • Itchy skin(pruritus)
      • Muscle pain
      • Chest pain
      • Areas showing swelling under the skin
      • Liver and spleen enlargement (hepatosplenomegaly)
      • Inflammation in affected organs (due to an overactive immune system)
      • Hydrocele (fluid build-up and swelling of scrotum and pain in it
      • Skin exfoliation
      • Lymphedema (fluid build-up in the lymphatic system)

      What are the causes of microfilaria?

      Filaria is mostly caused by the parasite known as nematodes belonging to the family filarioidea. The filarial worm is of three types:

      • Brugia malayi, which causes most of the remainder of the case
      • Wuchereria bancrofti, which is responsible for 90% of the cases
      • Brugia malayi, which causes most of the remainder of the cases

      How long does it take to treat microfilaria?

      Treatment for filaria in adults and children above 18 can either be one-day  Diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) treatment for 12 days (6mg/kg/day). One-day treatment is an equally effective treatment. In the case of tropical pulmonary eosinophilia (TPE), 14-21 day is generally recommended. DCE is very effective and does not have many side effects. 

      What is the better time to collect the blood samples for microfilaria?

      Depending on the species, microfilaria show specific periodicity. It is, therefore, crucial to collect microfilaria at a specific time of the day. If, in a patient, filarial infection is suspected, the optimum collection time for Brugia or Wuchereria is at night after 10, while for  Loa loa, it is midday between 10AM to 2 pm).

      Is microfilaria pathogenic?

      Microfilaria is larvae of adult nematodes (roundworm). Vector mosquito feed and ingest microfilaria. In the mosquito, they mature to infective larvae and enter the mouth part of the mosquito. They enter the new host through the vector’s wound, enter the lymphatic system in specific host tissues, mate and produce microfilaria. These filarial worms are parasitic worms that live within the lymphatic and subcutaneous tissue.

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