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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evaluation of commercially available preservatives for laboratory detection of helminths and protozoa in human fecal specimens.

Formalin and mercuric chloride-based low-viscosity polyvinyl alcohol (LV-PVA) are widely used by most diagnostic parasitology laboratories for preservation of helminth eggs and protozoan cysts and trophozoites in fecal specimens. Concerns about the toxicity of formalin and the difficulty of disposal of LV-PVA are powerful incentives to use alternate preservatives. Such alternatives have been marketed by several companies and are often presented as one-vial, non-mercuric chloride fixatives that aim at performing the same role as formalin and PVA combined. We compared five, one-vial commercial preservatives, two from Meridian Diagnostics, Inc. (Ecofix and sodium acetate-acetic acid-formalin), and one each from Scientific Device Laboratories, Inc. (Parasafe), Alpha Tec Systems, Inc. (Proto-fix), and Streck Laboratories, Inc. (STF), with 10% formalin and LV-PVA. Fecal specimens obtained from patients in a Brazilian hospital were aliquoted within 12 h of collection into the seven preservatives mentioned above and were processed after 1 month at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Direct and concentrated permanent smears as well as concentrates for 20 positive specimens (a total of 259 processed samples) were prepared, stained according to the manufacturers' instructions, examined, and graded. Positive specimens contained one or more parasites with stages consisting of eggs, larvae, cysts, and a few trophozoites of Giardia intestinalis. Criteria for assessment of the preservatives included the quality of the diagnostic characteristics of helminth eggs, protozoan cysts, and trophozoites, ease of use, and cost. Acceptable alternatives to formalin for wet preparations were found. Ecofix was found to be comparable to the traditional "gold standard" LV-PVA for the visualization of protozoa in permanent stained smears. This study suggests that more acceptable alternatives to the traditional formalin and LV-PVA exist.[1]


  1. Evaluation of commercially available preservatives for laboratory detection of helminths and protozoa in human fecal specimens. Pietrzak-Johnston, S.M., Bishop, H., Wahlquist, S., Moura, H., Da Silva, N.D., Da Silva, S.P., Nguyen-Dinh, P. J. Clin. Microbiol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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