What is the role of lab testing in the evaluation of food poisoning?

Updated: Jun 19, 2018
  • Author: Roberto M Gamarra, MD; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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Answer

The following routine laboratory tests may help to assess the patient’s inflammatory response and the degree of dehydration:

  • CBC with differential

  • Serum electrolyte assessment

  • BUN and creatinine levels

Other laboratory studies can be helpful in cases of food poisoning and include the following:

  • Stool Gram staining and Loeffler methylene blue staining for WBCs: To help differentiate invasive disease from noninvasive disease

  • Microscopic examination of the stool: To detect any ova and parasites

  • Bacterial culture for enteric pathogens (eg, Salmonella, Shigella,Campylobacter organisms): Mandatory when a stool sample shows positive results for WBCs or blood or if patients have fever or symptoms persisting for longer than 3-4 days

  • Blood culture in febrile patients

  • C difficile assay: To help rule out antibiotic-associated diarrhea in patients receiving antibiotics or in those with a history of recent antibiotic use


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