Alternative Causes of Infectious Diarrhea in Patients with Negative Tests for Clostridoides Difficile

Jennie H. Kwon, Caroline A. O'Neil, Tiffany Hink, Kimberly A. Reske, Rachel E. Bosserman, Erik R. Dubberke, Carey Ann D. Burnham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hospitalized patients with diarrhea who have a negative Clostridoides difficile (C. difficile) test are not routinely evaluated for alternative causes of infectious diarrhea. This study assessed for potential infectious causes of diarrhea in hospitalized patients with an order for repeat C. difficile toxin enzyme immunoassay (tEIA) testing after an initial tEIA test was negative. Methods: For patients age ≥18 years who had a second C. difficile tEIA test ordered within 96 h after a negative tEIA test, remnant fecal specimens from the first (negative) tEIA test were evaluated using the BioFire FilmArray Gastrointestinal Panel PCR, C. difficile toxigenic culture, and culture on a blood agar plate (BAP) to identify other potential causes of infectious diarrhea. Growth of organisms on the BAP was also used to assess potential disruptions in the gastrointestinal microbiota. Results: Among 84 remnant specimens, toxigenic C. difficile was identified in 9 (11%) by culture or PCR, while potential alternative causes of infectious diarrhea, including norovirus, rotavirus, enteropathogenic Escherichia coli, and Salmonella, were identified in 11 specimens (13%) by PCR. For the majority of patients, no infectious cause of diarrhea was identified, but 84% exhibited disrupted gastrointestinal microbiota, which may contribute to diarrhea. Conclusions: When a hospitalized patient has a negative C. difficile tEIA test but continues to have diarrhea, alternative infectious and noninfectious causes of diarrhea should be considered. If the patient has clinical signs and symptoms suggestive of infection or risk factors for gastrointestinal infection, laboratory testing for other etiologic agents may be appropriate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-443
Number of pages7
JournalThe journal of applied laboratory medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Clostridoides difficile
  • diarrhea
  • infectious diarrhea


Dive into the research topics of 'Alternative Causes of Infectious Diarrhea in Patients with Negative Tests for Clostridoides Difficile'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this