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J Clin Microbiol. 1997 Jun;35(6):1526-9.

Evaluation of nine immunoassay kits (enzyme immunoassay and direct fluorescence) for detection of Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum in human fecal specimens.

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  • 1Clinical Microbiology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, 90095-1713, USA.


It is well known that Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum can cause severe symptoms in humans, particularly those who are immunologically compromised. Immunoassay procedures offer both increased sensitivity and specificity compared to conventional staining methods. These reagents are also helpful when screening large numbers of patients, particularly in an outbreak situation or when screening patients with minimal symptoms. The data obtained by using 9 diagnostic kits were compared: direct fluorescent-antibody assay (DFA) kits (TechLab Giardia/Crypto IF kit, TechLab Crypto IF kit, and Meridian Merifluor Cryptosporidium/Giardia) and enzyme immunoassay (EIA) kits (Alexon ProSpecT Giardia EZ Microplate Assay, Alexon ProSpecT Cryptosporidium Microplate Assay, Cambridge Giardia lamblia Antigen Microwell ELISA, Meridian Premier Giardia lamblia, Meridian Premier Cryptosporidium, TechLab Giardia CELISA, Trend Giardia lamblia EIA). The test with the Meridian Merifluor Cryptosporidium/Giardia kit was used as the reference method. In various combinations, 60 specimens positive for Giardia, 60 specimens positive for Cryptosporidium, 40 specimens positive for a Giardia-Cryptosporidium mix, and 50 negative fecal specimens were tested. Different species (nine protozoa, three coccidia, one microsporidium, five nematodes, three cestodes, and one trematode) were included in the negative specimens. The sensitivity of EIA for Giardia ranged from 94% (Alexon) to 99% (Trend and Cambridge); the specificity was 100% with all EIA kits tested. The sensitivity of EIA for Cryptosporidium ranged from 98% (Alexon) to 99% (Meridian Premier); specificities were 100%. All DFA results were in agreement, with 100% sensitivity and specificity; however, the TechLab reagents resulted in fluorescence intensity that was generally one level below that seen with the reagents used in the reference method. In addition to sensitivity and specificity, factors such as cost, simplicity, ease of interpretation of results (color, intensity of fluorescence), equipment, available personnel, and number of tests ordered are also important considerations prior to kit selection.

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