Skip to main content

About HSL Parasitology

HSL’s Department of Clinical Parasitology serves as a National Parasitology Reference Laboratory. It services requests from general practitioners, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and medical laboratories in the NHS and private sector. The department has an international reputation, and provides a parasitology service to clinicians and laboratories worldwide.

We offer a wide range of investigations including diagnosis and identification of parasites in clinical material, diagnosis of human parasitic disease by immunological methods in addition to culture of parasitic organisms and detection of parasitic genomic material from clinical samples. The Department processes over 36,000 requests per annum.

A 24-hour service for microscopic diagnosis of malaria, trypanosomiasis and gastrointestinal amoebiasis (via hot stools) is available.

We also offer guidance regarding the appropriateness and timing of tests as well as a clinical advice service covering result interpretation and patient management.

The department is situated in two purpose built laboratories. Sample reception and urgent blood films for malaria and African trypanosomiasis diagnosis, as well as hot stool examination for intestinal amoebiasis are performed in the Mortimer Market Building. All other diagnostic services are carried out in the Halo Building at 1 Mabledon Place.

Routine access to the laboratories is restricted to the laboratory staff, with controlled entry for visitors.

HSL Parasitology is a UKAS Accredited Medical Laboratory No. 9702.

Our remit

  • To provide a comprehensive diagnostic, identification and advisory service for clinical and laboratory staff on human parasites and the diseases they cause.
  • To develop, evaluate and advise on new parasite diagnostic techniques.
  • To produce epidemiological data for UKHSA.
  • To liaise with other diagnostic and research parasitology laboratories in the UK and overseas, so that best practice is shared globally.

Our services

Diagnosis and identification of parasites in clinical material

Examples of this service include:

  • Identification or confirmation of identity of ova, cysts, larvae and worms in faeces, tissues, urine and other samples. The department aims to provide a 24 hour turnaround time within the working week for such specimens. If histology is required the sample will be dealt with in conjunction with a histopathologist.
  • Identification of malaria parasites in thick and thin blood films. The department aims to provide a 2 hour turnaround time within the working week, for these specimens. Communication with the laboratory before the specimen is dispatched is recommended for urgent samples.

Diagnosis of human parasitic diseases by immunological methods

Immunological diagnosis of the following infectious diseases is available
upon request: amoebiasis, babesiosis, cysticercosis, fascioliasis, filariasis, echinococcosis (hydatid disease), leishmaniasis (visceral only), malaria, schistosomiasis, strongyloidiasis, toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, trypanosomiasis (South American and African).

Culture of Leishmania from clinical material by prior arrangement

Culture of Leishmania from clinical material can take up to 3 weeks. Prior arrangement is advised to obtain the most efficient service.

PCR assays

PCR assays for Leishmania, Microsporidia, Babesia, the triple assay for Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia and Cryptosporidium, free-living amoebae and detection of subpatent (repeatedly slide negative) malarial infections are available on request.

Advisory service

We provide an advisory service on the investigation of patients for parasitic disease, the appropriateness of tests, their timing and interpretation together with advice on treatment (see above). Information regarding this service can normally be provided by telephone, fax or email.