A PCR based assay for the detection of enteric pathogens from Hemoccult® cards

Kevin Anthony Grimes, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. Large field studies in travelers' diarrhea (TD) in multiple destinations are limited by the need to perform stool cultures on site in a timely manner. A method for the collection, transport and storage of fecal specimens that does not require immediate processing, refrigeration and is stable for months would be advantageous. Objectives. Determine if enteric pathogen bacterial DNA can be identified in cards routinely used for evaluation of fecal occult blood. Methods. U.S. students traveling to Mexico in 2005-07 were followed for occurrence of diarrheal illness. When ill, students provided a stool specimen for culture and occult blood by the standard method. Cards were then stored at room temperature prior to DNA extraction. A multiplex fecal PCR was performed to identify enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli and enteroaggregative E. coli (EAEC) in DNA extracted from stools and occult blood cards. Results. Significantly more EAEC cases were identified by PCR done in DNA extracted from cards (49%) or from frozen feces (40%) than by culture followed by HEp-2 adherence assays (13%). Similarly more ETEC cases were detected in card DNA (38%) than fecal DNA (30%) or culture followed by hybridization (10%). Sensitivity and specificity of the card test was 75% and 62%, respectively, and 50% and 63%, respectively, when compared to EAEC and ETEC culture, respectively, and 53% and 51%, respectively compared to EAEC multiplex fecal PCR and 56% and 70%, respectively, compared to ETEC multiplex fecal PCR. Conclusions. DNA extracted from fecal cards used for detection of occult blood is of use in detecting enteric pathogens.

Subject Area

Microbiology|Public health

Recommended Citation

Grimes, Kevin Anthony, "A PCR based assay for the detection of enteric pathogens from Hemoccult® cards" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1447161.