Fast Five Quiz: This Thanksgiving, Are You Prepared to Confront Food Poisoning?

Richard H. Sinert, DO


November 23, 2015

Obtain the following laboratory studies in cases of suspected food poisoning:

  • Perform Gram staining and Loeffler methylene blue staining of the stool for white blood cells (WBCs) to help differentiate invasive disease from noninvasive disease.

  • Perform microscopic examination of the stool for ova and parasites.

  • Bacterial culture for enteric pathogens, such as Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter organisms, becomes mandatory if a stool sample shows positive results for WBCs or blood or if patients have fever or symptoms persisting for longer than 3-4 days.

  • Perform blood culture if the patient is notably febrile.

  • Perform complete blood count with differential, serum electrolyte assessment, and blood urea nitrogen and creatinine levels to help assess the inflammatory response and the degree of dehydration.

  • Assay for Clostridium difficile to help rule out antibiotic-associated diarrhea in patients receiving antibiotics or in those with a history of recent antibiotic use.

For more on the workup of food poisoning, read here.


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