Comparison of microscopy, rapid immunoassay, and molecular techniques for the detection of Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum
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- Elsafi, S.H., Al-Maqati, T.N., Hussein, M.I. et al. Parasitol Res (2013) 112: 1641. doi:10.1007/s00436-013-3319-1
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Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum are recognized as the most common protozoan infections in Saudi Arabia. Microscopic examination of stool samples, either direct or concentrated, for the recovery of G. lamblia cysts and trophozoites and C. parvum oocysts is still the most commonly used for the diagnosis of both parasites. We compared the conventional parasitological techniques of iodine-stained wet mount for G. lamblia and Kinyoun's acid-fast for C. parvum against ImmunoCard STAT® Cryptosporidium/Giardia and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detecting the 18S rRNA gene of G. lamblia and conventional PCR detecting the same gene of C. parvum at a tertiary hospital in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Out of 148 stool samples, 19 and 12 true positives were identified for G. lamblia and C. parvum, respectively, using a composite reference standard. In this case, true positives and negatives were considered as those with at least two positive or negative results out of the three tests. Both ImmunoCard STAT! and PCR methods were more sensitive than the microscopic tests of a single stool specimen of 85.7 % (CI = 62.6–96.2 %) and 85.7 % (CI = 56.2–97.5 %) for G. lamblia and C. parvum, respectively. However, specificity of microscopic tests was higher than other techniques for both parasites. Although PCR seems to be most sensitive for both G. lamblia and C. parvum, its low specificity may render its superiority over other techniques. When a single stool sample is used for detection of G. lamblia and C. parvum, better results can be obtained when coupled with serological testing. Although PCR is the most sensitive method for the detection of both G. lamblia and C. parvum, its use requires attention in relation to the increased possible false positives.