Eeww: iPhone microscope spots parasitic worm eggs

(Credit: Isaac Bogoch)

Some 2 billion people around the world are affected by parasitic worms. Researchers trying to help them may soon use a simple iPhone hack.

The Toronto General Hospital’s Isaac Bogoch and colleagues found that “mobile phone microscopy” has a sensitivity of about 70 percent for detecting the eggs of parasitic worms, also known as helminths.

Reporting in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (PDF), the researchers described attaching a ball lens costing less than $15 to the camera of an iPhone 4S with double-sided tape.

They pierced a small hole in the tape and placed the ball lens against the hole.

Next, smear slides of stool samples from children in Tanzania were held up against the tape while a flashlight illuminated the slides.

The camera snapped images of the samples and the results were checked for the presence of eggs. The camera could resolve eggs as small as 40-60 micrometers in diameter.

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