Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network position statement: Non-culture based diagnostics for gastroenteritis and implications for public health investigations
As clinical laboratories transition to using culture-independent detection test (CIDT) panels for cases of acute gastroenteritis, culture of clinical specimens is becoming less common. The reduction in bacterial cultures available for public health activities is expected to hinder surveillance and outbreak response by public health laboratories at the local, provincial, national and international levels. These recommendations are intended to serve as guidelines for the implementation of CIDT panels in frontline laboratories in Canada. The United States of America has already seen a significant reduction in culture of stool specimens despite the Association of Public Health Laboratories recommendation to perform reflex culture on positive CIDT specimens. Priority public health organisms addressed in these Canadian guidelines include Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, Shigella and Salmonella and, under regional circumstances, other organisms such as Campylobacter jejuni/coli and Yersinia enterocolitica. These recommendations suggest active engagement between primary diagnostic laboratories and provincial public health laboratories to determine the workflow and protocols for reflex or parallel culture. Consequently, notifiable disease definitions will also need modification, with consultation of all stakeholders. Stakeholders need to work together to enhance recovery of bacterial isolates with best practices used for stool transport and storage.
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