Faeces microbiology


Test indications

  • Investigation of diarrhoea,
  • Screening of food handlers or special risk groups (at discretion of CCDC),
  • C. difficile, VRE and CRE screen,
  • Screening by microscopy for ova, cysts and parasites (to include Enterobius (Sellotape slide), and Schistosoma),
  • Screening.

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Test information

Routine investigation includes Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, E.coli O157, Giardia and Cryptosporidium by PCR.

Other tests (parasites, C.difficile toxin) should be specifically requested.

Clinical information should include travel abroad, if food handler, recent antibiotics, suspected food poisoning or other food details.

Investigation for Norovirus only performed in the case of a hospital outbreak, or at the request of Environmental Health.

Salmonella, Shigella and suspected food poisoning (whatever cause) are all notifiable to the CCDC.

Samples required

Faeces in sterile faeces collection container (with spatula). Rectal swabs are not recommended.

Send 3 specimens from separate bowel motions (one specimen is sufficient for H.pylori testing).

Indicate if parasitology required.

Investigation for viruses will be performed if clinically indicated.

Turnaround time

5 working days.

C.difficile results are available within 24 hours of receiving the sample in the laboratory.

VRE & CRE: 2 days

Quoted turnaround times are the time from receipt of specimen into the laboratory to 90% of reports leaving the laboratory. Stated times are based on normal working hours, Monday to Friday, excluding statutory bank and public holidays.