Bacterial cultures – Aerobic – Reference ID/Confirmation

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

Bacterial Cultures – Aerobic – Reference ID/Confirmation

Pure viable subculture of organism on appropriate media that supports the growth (eg Blood Agar) or a swab of a pure subculture in Amies transport medium2,3

Submission and Collection Notes


If a swab is received the turnaround time will be delayed by at least 24 hours.


Submit subculture of an organism on an appropriate medium that supports the growth (e.g. Blood Agar). Swab of pure culture in bacterial transport medium is an acceptable alternative.


Primary cultures are not acceptable; and must be processed by the originating lab. The submitter will be contacted by telephone prior to rejection of the primary sample followed by a written report to indicate that the test has been rejected.


Complete all fields of the Reference Bacteriology Requisition, including:

  • test(s) requested
  • specimen source
  • culture information (gram stain, catalase, oxidase)
  • presumptive identification
  • clinical/epidemiology
  • the number of consecutive blood cultures positive for the submitted isolate when isolates are from blood cultures
  • contact information


  • Mixed or non-viable cultures will not be tested. The submitter will be contacted by telephone. A written report will be issued to indicate that the test has been rejected.
  • The submitting laboratory will be contacted regarding isolates or specimens from critical sites (e.g. brain abscess) that are submitted inappropriately (e.g. improper transport conditions or mis-labelled/un-labelled).
  • Do not submit multiple isolates from the same specimen/site of infection - for polymicrobic infections, only submit the two most predominant isolates.

Preparation Prior to Transport

Label the specimen container with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Special Instructions

Transport a fresh subculture in anaerobic conditions to ensure viability on receipt.

Place specimen in biohazard bag and seal. Specimen should be transferred to the laboratory within 48 hours of collection.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Aerobic cultures are tested daily, Monday to Friday.

Turnaround time for test results is up to 7 days from receipt by PHO laboratory.


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

Test Methods

All bacterial culture isolates are identified/confirmed by conventional identification methods:

  • gram stain
  • biochemicals
  • 16S rRNA gene sequencing
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Updated 21 Dec 2018