Giardiasis in travellers: evaluation of an antigen-capture ELISA for the detection of Giardia lamblia-antigen in stool

Z Gastroenterol. 1996 Apr;34(4):237-40.


Diagnosis of giardiasis relies largely on the microscopical detection of trophozoites or cysts in feces. However, this method is labour- and time-intensive and depends highly on the skill of an experienced microscopist. In order to identify the prevalence of Giardia lamblia in travellers returning from overseas, we evaluated sensitivity and specificity of a commercially available ELISA kit for the detection of Giardia-lamblia-antigen in stool. Nine hundred seventy-eight stool samples from 795 patients were examined by microscopy (iron-hematoxyilin-stain, SAF-concentration) and ELISA. Altogether, Giardia infection could be detected in 74 subjects. On evaluation of all samples, the ELISA turned out to be more sensitive than microscopy (95.5% vs. 81.8%) and 99.7% specific for Giardia lamblia. Especially with microscopy, the examination of more than one stool specimen did improve diagnostic sensitivity. It seems therefore advisable to retain the practise of examining at least three stool samples before considering a patient as not infected. The coproantigen-ELISA is especially advantageous in situations where only a single stool sample can be examined. It should not, however, replace microscopical examination of stool specimens for ova and parasites since other potential pathogens would otherwise escape detection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Protozoan / analysis*
  • Developing Countries
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Giardia lamblia / immunology*
  • Giardiasis / diagnosis*
  • Giardiasis / immunology
  • Giardiasis / parasitology
  • Humans
  • Parasite Egg Count
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Travel*


  • Antigens, Protozoan