Gastrointestinal (GI) pathogens (gastro pathogens) are disease-carrying bacteria, viruses, or parasites found in the digestive tract. These pathogens are sometimes fairly harmless in the human body and other times they are the source of symptoms that can range from mild discomfort to severe pain and difficulty eating and digesting food. When digestive tract issues are suspected, doctors often send samples to a lab like ours to pinpoint the source of a patient’s symptoms so an appropriate treatment can be recommended.
When Testing is Necessary
Testing is necessary when patients report symptoms indicating a digestive tract infection. In addition to recurring diarrhea, signs of GI problem may include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Blood and/or mucus in loose stools
A fresh stool sample is collected in a clean container. The sample should be as pure as possible without urine or water. It will then be sent to our lab for analysis. No test preparation is required.
What is Tested
A GI pathogen panel detects the presence of multiple disease-causing microbes in a stool sample. Genetic material in the sample is evaluated to identify common sources of infection. Traditional stool culture testing sometimes misses pathogens present in a sample in low numbers. Results can take 2-3 days or more to obtain such traditional methods often involve the need to conduct multiple tests such as an ova and parasite test. Low volumes can, however, be detected with a GI panel test. All-in-one panel testing can detect a variety of potential sources of GI infections, including:
- Pathogens often associated with gastroenteritis
- Vibrio cholerae
- Various forms of e-coli bacteria
- Rotavirus, norovirus, and adenovirus
- Parasites that include cryptosporidium, entamoeba histolytica, and giardia lamblia
What Causes GI Infections
Gastrointestinal infections may be caused by ingesting some type of food that has been contaminated by some type of bacteria or virus. GI infections caused by parasites are not as common. The interpretation of results is often combined with knowledge of a patient’s medical and travel history since 30-70 percent of individuals who travel outside of the United States develop a GI infection, according to the CDC.
Based on what a patient reports having eaten, a doctor may have a good idea of what’s causing an GI infection, but a test will still be necessary for confirmation. Infection-causing microbes shed into stool and can be spread to other individuals if a patient with a GI infection doesn’t wash their hands.
Our Gastro Pathogen Testing
We provide comprehensive GI panel tests that screen for 22 viruses, parasites, and bacteria that may be the cause of infectious diarrhea or related digestive tract issues. Hands-on time required for testing of this nature is only a few minutes, and no precise measuring or pipetting is required. Our system integrates the following processes:
- Sample preparation
Our gastro pathogen testing is thorough, fast, and comprehensive. In most instances, results can be delivered in about an hour and presented in the form of a clear, concise report. Because of our ability to quickly process samples and provide easy access to results, doctors can begin treatment for patients with GI infections with minimal delays and maximum efficiency and avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics.