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Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Aug 1;37(3):365-75. Epub 2003 Jul 22.

Diagnostic accuracy of stool assays for inflammatory bacterial gastroenteritis in developed and resource-poor countries.

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  • 1Center for International Health and Development, Boston University School of Public Health, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


Because acute bacterial gastroenteritis is often inflammatory, rapid stool assays that detect intestinal inflammation might be used to distinguish between bacterial and nonbacterial gastroenteritis. We performed meta-analyses to determine the discriminatory power, in developed and in resource-poor countries, of rapid stool assays that test for lactoferrin, fecal leukocytes, fecal erythrocytes, and occult blood. In developed countries, the area under the summary receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC/SROC) was 0.89 for fecal leukocytes and 0.81 for occult blood. In resource-poor countries, the AUC/SROC was 0.79 for lactoferrin, 0.72 for fecal leukocytes, 0.63 for occult blood, and 0.61 for fecal erythrocytes. In developed countries, positive and negative likelihood ratios (LR+ and LR-, respectively) for fecal leukocytes were 4.56 and 0.32 when a threshold of >5 cells/high-power field was used, compared with 2.94 and 0.6 in resource-poor countries; for lactoferrin, LR+ was 1.34 and LR- was 0.17 in resource-poor countries when the threshold was an agglutination rating of "+" and a dilution of 1:50. In developing countries, rapid stool assays performed poorly, whereas in developed countries, tests for fecal leukocytes, lactoferrin, and occult blood were moderately useful and could identify patients who were more likely to benefit from empirical antibiotic therapy.

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