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American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene


Though bulk stool remains the gold standard specimen type for enteropathogen diagnosis, rectal swabs may offer comparable sensitivity with greater ease of collection for select pathogens. This study sought to evaluate the validity and reproducibility of rectal swabs as a sample collection method for the molecular diagnosis of Giardia duodenalis. Paired rectal swab and bulk stool samples were collected from 86 children ages 0–4 years living in southwest Niger, with duplicate samples collected among a subset of 50 children. Infection was detected using a previously validated real-time PCR diagnostic targeting the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene. Giardia duodenalis was detected in 65.5% (55/84) of bulk stool samples and 44.0% (37/84) of swab samples. The kappa evaluating test agreement was 0.81 (95% CI: 0.54–1.00) among duplicate stool samples (N = 49) and 0.75 (95% CI: 0.47–1.00) among duplicate rectal swabs (N = 48). Diagnostic sensitivity was 93% (95% CI: 84–98) by bulk stool and 63% (95% CI: 49–75) by rectal swabs. When restricting to the lowest three quartiles of bulk stool quantitation cycle values (an indication of relatively high parasite load), sensitivity by rectal swabs increased to 78.0% (95% CI: 64–89, P < 0.0001). These findings suggest that rectal swabs provide less sensitive and reproducible results than bulk stool for the real-time PCR diagnosis of G. duodenalis. However, their fair sensitivity for higher parasite loads suggests that swabs may be a useful tool for detecting higher burden infections when stool collection is excessively expensive or logistically challenging.





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy


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