The diagnosis of the small (4- to 6-μm) Cryptosporidium oocysts is labor intensive and relies on stool concentration, with subsequent staining and microscopy. The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical utility of an antigen capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (LMD Laboratories, Carlsbad, Calif.) in detecting Cryptosporidium oocysts in human stools. A total of 591 specimens (76 diarrheal, 515 control) obtained from 213 inhabitants of an urban slum in northeastern Brazil were examined by both ELISA and conventional microscopic examination (CME) of formalin-ethyl acetate-concentrated stool samples stained with modified acid-fast and auramine stains. Forty-eight diarrheal stools (63.2%) were positive for Cryptosporidium oocysts by CME, with 40 of these positive by ELISA. Thirty- five control stools (6.8%) had Cryptosporidium oocysts detected by CME, with 15 of these also positive by ELISA. All of the 480 nondiarrheal stools and all but one of the diarrheal stools negative by CME were negative by ELISA. The test had an overall sensitivity of 66.3% and a specificity of 99.8% (positive predictive value, 98.2%; negative predictive value, 94.8%). In the evaluation of human diarrheal stool samples, the test sensitivity increased to 83.3%, with a specificity of 96.4%, and, in analysis of samples from individual patients with diarrhea, the sensitivity was 87.9%, with a specificity of 100%. These results indicate that this stool ELISA is sensitive and specific for the detection of Cryptosporidium oocysts in human diarrheal stool specimens but has limited use in epidemiologic studies for the diagnosis of asymptomatic Cryptosporidium infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)