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    Diagnosis of fluke infections is based on a combination of the patient's history, particularly travel or residence in areas known to have flukes, and identification of the fluke's eggs or adult forms. In some patients, the eggs are found in fluid from the lungs, bile duct, or small intestine. Samples of these fluids can be obtained with a suction instrument (aspirator). Because most types of fluke infections are rare in the United States, stool specimens or body fluid samples may need to be sent to a laboratory with experts in unusual diseases or conditions to identify the specific parasite. In some cases, adult flukes may be found in the patient's stools, vomit, sputum, or skin lumps (for lung flukes). In the case of lung flukes, it is important for the doctor to rule out tuberculosis as a possible diagnosis. A tuberculosis skin test and chest x ray will usually be sufficient to do this.

    Blood tests may be useful in diagnosing fluke infections, but their usefulness is limited because of cross-reactions. A cross-reaction occurs in blood testing when a particular disease agent reacts with antibodies specific to another disease agent. This result means that the doctor may know that the person is infected by flukes but cannot tell from the blood test alone which specific type of fluke is causing the disease. In addition, blood tests for fluke infections cannot distinguish between past and current infections. In some cases, sophisticated imaging techniques, such as computed tomography scans (CT scans) or ultrasound scans of the patient's chest or brain (for lung flukes) or abdomen (for liver flukes), are useful in confirming a diagnosis of fluke infection.

    Source: The Gale Group. Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.";

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