Using a collection (n = 12) of ATCC and known stock isolates, as well as 328 clinical stool specimens, we evaluated the ESwab and the new FecalSwab liquid-based microbiology (LBM) devices for storing and transporting diarrheagenic bacteria. The stock isolates were stored in these swab devices up to 48 h at refrigeration (4°C) or room (∼25°C) temperature and up to 3 months at -20°C or -70°C. With the clinical stool specimens, the performances of the ESwab and FecalSwab were compared to those of routinely used transport systems (Amies gel swabs and dry containers). At a refrigeration temperature, all isolates survived in FecalSwab up to 48 h, while in ESwab, only 10 isolates (83.3%) out of 12 survived. At -70°C, all isolates in FecalSwab were recovered after 3 months of storage, whereas in ESwab, none of the isolates were recovered. At -20°C, neither of the swab devices preserved the viability of stock isolates after 2 weeks of storage, and at room temperature, 7 (58.3%) of the stock isolates were recovered in both transport devices after 48 h. Of the 328 fecal specimens, 44 (13.4%) were positive for one of the common diarrheagenic bacterial species with all transport systems used. Thus, the suitability of the ESwab and FecalSwab devices for culturing fresh stools was at least equal to those of the Amies gel swabs and dry containers. Although the ESwab was shown to be an option for collecting and transporting fecal specimens, the FecalSwab device had clearly better preserving properties under different storage conditions.
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