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Enteric Pathogen Culture, Stool

A stool culture is performed to isolate and identify the microbial pathogens causing diarrhea and may be useful in identifying the source of the contaminant (eg, dairy products, poultry, water, or meat).

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Diarrhea can be caused by various factors such as microbes, viruses, parasites, and chemicals with similar symptoms, regardless of the cause. Taking a detailed medical history regarding the symptoms and signs of the disease as well as its duration, age, travel history, food consumption, recent use of antibiotics, and the possible existence of similar conditions in the family and friends' environment, may help the laboratory in the search for the cause and the right treatment of the problem.

Indications for performing a stool culture include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Intestinal tenesmus (pain during bowel movements)
  • Severe or persistent symptoms
  • A recent trip to a third-world country
  • Known exposure to bacterial agents
  • Presence of leukocytes in the stool
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