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Neisseria gonorrhoeae – Culture
Specimen Type:

Suitable specimens: Genital swabs, non-genital swabs (rectal, throat/pharyngeal, conjunctival scrapings/swabs), joint fluids/aspirates, sexual abuse and/or sexual assault cases in peri-pubertal and pre-pubertal children including vaginal, urethral, rectal, throat/pharyngeal swabs

Unsuitable specimens: Urine and seminal fluid are not acceptable specimens for Neisseria gonorrhoeae culture.


​The PHOL GC, Neisseria gonorrhoeae culture charcoal kits are the optimal collection kit.  A bacteriological transport kit without charcoal is also acceptable.  Fluids can be collected in a sterile container.

Dry swabs and multi-organism transport kits are not acceptable for Neisseria gonorrhoeae culture and testing will not be performed. Do not use expired kits.

Collection information:

​To order collection kits or other PHOL supplies complete the Requisition for Containers and Supplies. The form should be faxed to Public Health Ontario Laboratory, Toronto at 416-235-5753 or your local PHOL.

Minimum volume required:

● swab
● 1.0 mL of fluid


​Complete all fields of the General Test Requisition Form



Preparation prior to transport:

​Label the specimen with 2 patient identifiers, place in a biohazard bag and seal. Specimens should be stored at room temperature or incubated at 35-37°C after collection and shipped at room temperature.  Transport to the laboratory as soon as possible.

Specimens must be received at the testing laboratory within 72 hours of collection.

Special Instructions:

​Follow the instructions found in the GC- Neisseria gonorrhoeae culture Kit Instruction Sheet.


Specimens are tested by routine bacterial culture methods.
Confirmation and susceptibility testing is done on all Neisseria gonorrhoeae positive specimens. 
For susceptibility testing, refer to the Neisseria gonorrhoeae – Susceptibility Test Information Sheet.


​Culture is the specimen of choice for all potentially medico-legal specimens, i.e. pre-pubertal children, sexual abuse in peri-pubertal and pre-pubertal children, sexual assault and legal cases.  Legal specimens should be transported to the laboratory under legal seal; contact the Medical Microbiologist prior to specimen collection.

Test of Cure for Chlamydia trachomatis/Neisseria gonorrhoeae is not routinely indicated.  Repeat testing is recommended in the following scenarios:
1) when compliance is difficult to ensure (e.g. failure to take or finish medication),
2) if an alternative treatment has been used,
3) in all pre-pubertal children,
4) in all pregnant women, and
5) in all cases of pharyngeal gonorrhea.

The optimal specimen for test of cure is culture and should be performed at 1 - 2 weeks after completion of treatment.   If culture is not available, test of cure by NAAT will also be accepted.  Test of cure for GC should be performed 2 - 3 weeks after completion of treatment.


Neisseria gonorrhoeae culture is performed daily, Monday to Saturday.
TAT is up to 5 days.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

Critical positive reports (results from body fluids/aspirates, tissues, CSF or specimens from pregnant patients, infants, pre-pubertal children, i.e. ≤ 12 years and medico-legal specimens, i.e. pre-pubertal children, sexual abuse in peri-pubertal and pre-pubertal children, sexual assault and legal cases) are phoned and faxed if the client is registered for auto fax.

All other positive reports are phoned or faxed to the ordering physician if the client is registered for auto fax.

Specimens that are positive for Neisseria gonorrhoeae are reported to the Medical Officer of Health as per the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Uncontrolled print copy. Valid only on day of Print: [date]
Page updated on [date/time] 10/04/2018 1:43 PM
© , Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion