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Whooping Cough Swabs

Category Bacteriology Medical Microbiology
Reporting frequency TAT - Culture results are available from 7 days

Collection conditions

Sample the posterior nasopharynx using a nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) or pernasal swab (PNS). The PNS needs to be gently pushed along the floor of the nasal cavity towards the posterior wall of the nasopharynx as this is where the B. pertussis bacteria are most likely to be found. After sampling, place the PNS for culture in transport media and transfer it without delay to the laboratory for processing.

Additional information

Sensitivity decreases with patient age and also decreases with time after onset and is highly dependent on specimen quality. Timing the specimen collection is important: sensitivity decreases substantially, from approximately 60% within 1 week of symptom onset to culture to 10% or less after 4 weeks. This means it is vital to have accurate details about the onset of symptoms on the patient request form. Sampling of nasopharyngeal secretions in patients with whooping cough may precipitate a paroxysm of coughing and cause obstruction of the airways. Resuscitation equipment must be available if whooping cough is suspected. The specimen collector should avoid exposure to direct coughs from the patient

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