The Remains of the Day or So: What’s in a Stool

A new study looks into a stool sample, to see whether the whole is indicative of the parts. The study’s title perhaps marks the start of a new era for medical journals. It uses plain, clear words:

An In-Depth Analysis of a Piece of Shit: Distribution of Schistosoma mansoni and Hookworm Eggs in Human Stool,” Stefanie J. Krauth, Jean T. Coulibaly, Stefanie Knopp, Mahamadou Traoré, Eliézer K. N’Goran, Jürg Utzinger, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 6(12): e1969.  The authors are at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland, the University of Basel, Switzerland,  Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Cote d’Ivoire, and the Universite de Cocody, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. They explain:

“An accurate diagnosis of helminth infection is important to improve patient management. However, there is considerable intra- and inter-specimen variation of helminth egg counts in human feces. Homogenization of stool samples has been suggested to improve diagnostic accuracy, but there are no detailed investigations. Rapid disintegration of hookworm eggs constitutes another problem in epidemiological surveys. We studied the spatial distribution of Schistosoma mansoni and hookworm eggs in stool samples, the effect of homogenization, and determined egg counts over time in stool samples stored under different conditions….

“Principal Findings: We found no clear spatial pattern of S. mansoni and hookworm eggs in fecal samples.”

Here are two diagrams from the study:

SampleProcessing HowToCollect

(Thanks to investigator Luciano Lemos-Filho for bringing this to our attention.)

BONUS (not really related): A study with a typo in its title (HT Deborah Blum and Stuart Cantrill)

BONUS (not at all related): What’s in a name?