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Abstract Background There is significant need for accurate diagnostic tools for Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia duodenalis infections in resource limited countries where diarrhoeal disease caused by these parasites is often prevalent. The present study assessed the diagnostic performance of three commercially available rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) based on faecal-antigen detection for Cryptosporidium spp. and/or G. duodenalis infections in stool samples of children admitted with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and diarrhoea. An established multiplex PCR was used as reference test. Methods Stool samples from children with SAM and diarrhoea enrolled in a randomized controlled trial (registered at in Malawi (n = 175) and Kenya (n = 120) between December 2014 and December 2015 were analysed by a multiplex PCR for the presence of Cryptosporidium spp., G. duodenalis or Entamoeba histolytica parasite DNA. Cryptosporidium-positive samples were species typed using restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis. A sub-sample of the stool specimens (n = 236) was used for testing with three different RDTs. Diagnostic accuracy of the tests under evaluation was assessed using the results of PCR as reference standard using MedCalc software. Pearson Chi-square test and Fisher’s exact test were used to determine (significant) difference between the number of cryptosporidiosis or giardiasis cases found by PCR in Malawi and Kenya. The overall diagnostic accuracy of each RDT was calculated by plotting a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for each test and to determine the area under the curve (AUC) using SPSS8 software. Results Prevalence of Cryptosporidium spp. by PCR was 20.0 and 21.7% in Malawi and Kenya respectively, mostly C. hominis. G. duodenalis prevalence was 23.4 and 5.8% in Malawi and Kenya respectively. E. histolytica was not detected by PCR. RDT testing followed the same pattern of prevalence. RDT sensitivities ranged for cryptosporidiosis from 42.9 to 76.9% and for G. duodenalis from 48.2 to 85.7%. RDT specificities ranged from 88.4 to 100% for Cryptosporidium spp. and from 91.2 to 99.2% for G. duodenalis infections. Based on the estimated area under the curve (AUC) values, all tests under evaluation had an acceptable overall diagnostic accuracy (> 0.7), with the exception of one RDT for Cryptosporidium spp. in Malawi. Conclusions All three RDTs for Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia duodenalis evaluated in this study have a moderate sensitivity, but sufficient specificity. The main value of the RDTs is within their rapidness and their usefulness as screening assays in surveys for diarrhoea.

Original publication




Journal article


Infectious Diseases of Poverty


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date