Intestinal Protozoan Parasites (Online CE Course)

(based on 362 customer ratings)

Author: Margaret Reinhart, MS, MT(ASCP) Reviewers: Diane M. Valentin, MS, MT(ASCP)MB and Rory Huschka, M.Ed., MT(ASCP)

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This course is intended as a survey or overview of the protozoa (protista) that can be found in the human intestinal tract, and how to diagnose them. A brief introduction of each parasite, including its epidemiology and life cycle will be given. The emphasis will then be on key diagnostic features.

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Continuing Education Credits

P.A.C.E.® Contact Hours (acceptable for AMT, ASCP, and state recertification): 1 hour(s)
Approved through 4/30/2025
Florida Board of Clinical Laboratory Personnel Credit Hours - General (Microbiology/Mycology/Parasitology): 1 hour(s)
Approved through 4/30/2025


  • Recall and briefly describe each of the commonly found protozoan parasites found in human feces.
  • Describe how a patient gets infected by each parasite.
  • Identify microscopic images of each parasite based on key diagnostic criteria.
  • Differentiate those protozoa that are capable of causing disease from those which are commensal.
  • Describe other (besides microscopy) diagnostic tests which can be used for the detection and identification of some of the commonly found parasites.

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(based on 362 customer ratings)

Course Outline

Click on the links below to preview selected pages from this course.
  • Introduction to the Intestinal Parasitic Protozoa
  • Overview of Diagnostic Techniques
  • Life Cycles, Epidemiology, Diseases, and Diagnosis of the Amoebae
      • Pathogenic vs. Commensal Amoebae
      • Entamoeba histolytica Life Cycle
      • Entamoeba histolytica Epidemiology and Disease
      • Differentiating E. histolytica Trophozoites from the Commensal Amoeba Trophs
      • Differentiating E. histolytica Cysts from the Commensal Amoeba Cysts
      • Other Diagnostic Techniques for Entamoeba histolytica
      • Match the amoeba species with whether it is pathogenic or commensal.
      • People become infected with Entamoeba histolytica by consuming food contaminated (usually of human fecal origin) with trophozoites of the organism.
      • A MLS is puzzled when she finds cysts resembling either E. histolytica or E. hartmanni. A way of distinguishing Entamoeba histolytica cysts from cysts...
      • Common methods of detecting pathogenic gastrointestinal infection with Entamoeba histolytica include all of the following except:
  • Life Cycles, Epidemiology, Diseases, and Diagnosis of the Flagellates
      • Pathogenic vs. Commensal Flagellates
      • Giardia and Dientamoeba Life Cycles
      • Giardia and Dientamoeba Epidemiology and Disease
      • Differentiating Giardia and Dientamoeba Trophozoites from the Commensal Flagellated Trophs
      • Differentiating Giardia and Dientamoeba Cysts from those of the Commensal Flagellates
      • Other Diagnostic Techniques for Giardia and Dientamoeba
      • A physician suspects that a patient may be infected with Giardia and orders an O&P exam. Examination of a trichrome stained smear on the loose sto...
      • Match the trophozoite to the image from a trichrome stained smear.
      • The best methods for diagnosing G. duodenalis trophozoites include: (choose all that apply)
  • Life Cycle, Epidemiology, Disease, and Diagnosis of the Ciliate, Balantidium coli
      • Life Cycle, Epidemiology, and Disease Caused by Balantidium coli
      • Diagnosis of Balantidium coli
      • An O&P exam is ordered. It is noted that Blantidium coli infection is suspected. The best method for diagnosis is:
  • Other intestinal Protists: Blastocystis and the Sporozoa (phylum Apicomplexa), and Microsporidia
  • References
      • References

Additional Information

Level of Instruction:  Intermediate to Advanced
Intended Audience: Medical laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technicians, pathology residents, MLS students, and other health care personnel who have an interest in this subject matter.
Author Information: Margaret Reinhart, MS, MLS(ASCP) is a Senior Lecturer emerita in Biological Sciences at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia PA where she taught hematology, clinical immunology, parasitology, and other related courses, as well as directed the MLS program for over 30 years. She is currently adjunct instructor in Hematology at Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia PA.  She holds a Masters Degree in Biology and in Health Care Administration.
Reviewer Information:  
Diane M. Valentin, MS, MT(ASCP)MB is Ms. Valentin is a graduate of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Ms. Valentin is a graduate of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (MT ’99) who has been working as a medical laboratory professional since her graduation. She also has earned a master’s of science degree in Biomedical Informatics, focusing in Bioinformatics, from Rutgers University and a certificate in Molecular Laboratory Diagnostics from Michigan State University. She holds two certifications by the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP): Medical Technologist and Technologist in Molecular Biology.
Rory Huschka, M. Ed., MT(ASCP), has over 20 years of combined experience as a medical technologist, technical supervisor, professor, and manager. He is the former Director of Clinical Laboratory Science and Medical Laboratory Technician Programs at Brookline College. He is currently a Program Director at MediaLab, Inc. Rory holds a BS degree in Medical Technology from North Dakota State University and a Masters in Educational Leadership.

How to Subscribe
MLS & MLT Comprehensive CE Package
Includes 180 CE courses, most popular
$109Add to cart
Pick Your Courses
Up to 8 CE hours
$55Add to cart
Individual course$25Add to cart
Need multiple seats for your university or lab? Get a quote
Giardia life cycle (19).

Wet mounts of four common forms of Blastocystis hominis (33).

Sporulated oocyst of Sarcocystis sp. in a wet mount viewed under UV microscopy, magnification 400x (41).


E. histolytica life cycle (6).

Trichrome smear of a B. hominis cyst (34).

Entamoeba coli cysts