Comparison of Escherichia coli O157:H7 antigen detection in stool and broth cultures to that in sorbitol-MacConkey agar stool cultures

J. R. Stapp, S. Jelacic, Y. L. Yea, E. J. Klein, M. Fischer, C. R. Clausen, X. Qin, D. L. Swerdlow, P. I. Tarr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We evaluated the Meridian IC-STAT direct fecal and broth culture antigen detection methods with samples from children infected with Escherichia coil O157:H7 and correlated the antigen detection results with the culture results. Stools of 16 children who had recently had stool cultures positive for this pathogen (population A) and 102 children with diarrhea of unknown cause (population B) were tested with the IC-STAT device (direct testing). Fecal broth cultures were also tested with this device (broth testing). The results were correlated to a standard of the combined yield from direct culture of stools on sorbitol-MacConkey (SMAC) agar and culture of broth on SMAC agar. Eleven (69%) of the population A stool specimens yielded E. coli O157:H7 when plated directly on SMAC agar. Two more specimens yielded this pathogen when the broth culture was similarly plated. Of these 13 stool specimens, 8 and 13 were positive by direct and broth testing (respective sensitivities, 62 and 100%). Compared to the sensitivity of a simultaneously performed SMAC agar culture, the sensitivity of direct testing was 73%. Three (3%) of the population B stool specimens contained E. coil O157:H7 on SMAC agar culture; one and three of these stool specimens were positive by direct and broth testing, respectively. The direct and broth IC-STAT tests were 100% specific with samples from children from population B. Direct IC-STAT testing of stools is rapid, easily performed, and specific but is insufficiently sensitive to exclude the possibility of infection with E. coli O157:H7. Performing the IC-STAT test with a broth culture increases its sensitivity. However, attempts to recover E. coli O157:H7 by culture should not be abandoned but, rather, should be increased when the IC-STAT test result is positive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3404-3406
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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