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Diagnostic Methods
Diagnostic methodsPros and cons
Parasitological methods 
Oocysts are detected in formalin- or SAF-fixed (to limit infection risk of laboratory personnel) concentrated faeces using a modified Ziehl-Neelsen stain, auramine or FITC-labelled specific monoclonal antibodies.
The number of oocysts is inversely correlated with the consistency of the stool.
Molecular diagnosis 
Comparative analysis of a nested PCR did not reveal a higher sensitivity than the direct fluorescent antibody or the antigen EIA test.
A recently described multiplex real-time PCR assay detects simultaneously Cryptosporidium, Giardia and Entamoeba.
  • High sensitivity and specificity
  • High cost
Antigen detection 
Several commercially available test kits detect Cryptosporidium copro-antigens in faecal samples by immunochromatographic, immunoenzyme or direct fluorescent antibody assays.
  • Higher sensitivity than microscopy (often >95%)
  • Excellent specificity
  • Various demands on sample preparation (fresh, frozen, or fixed stools)
  • Detection of only one pathogen (however there is a combination test with Giardia or the Triage Micro Parasite Panel assay which also includes E. histolytica/E. dispar)
Antibody detection 
Of no diagnostic relevance!