Bacterial cultures – Aerobic – Reference ID/Confirmation

Conformément au Règlement de l’Ontario 671/92 de la Loi sur les services en français, les renseignements d’analyses de laboratoire liés à la présente page ne sont offerts qu’en anglais parce qu’ils sont de nature scientifique ou technique et destinés uniquement à l’usage des fournisseurs de soins de santé qualifiés et non aux membres du public.

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


Complete all fields of the Reference Bacteriology Requisition, including:

  • Test(s) requested
  • Specimen source
  • Culture information (Gram stain, catalase, oxidase)
  • Presumptive identification
  • Clinical/epidemiology information
  • Date of primary specimen collection
  • Primary source of isolation (mandatory)
  • The number of consecutive blood cultures positive for the submitted isolate when isolates are from blood cultures

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


Primary cultures are unacceptable; they should be processed in the originating lab and will be rejected.


  • 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.
  • Mis-labelled or un-labelled specimens will not be tested. A report will be sent stating "Specimen received un-labelled" or "Requisition identification does not match the specimen identification information. Please resubmit".
  • 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.

Storage and Transport

Label the specimen 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.

Complete all fields of the Reference Bacteriology Requisition. Include the patient’s full name, date of birth, Health Card Number (must match the specimen label). Enter the test requested, source of specimen, date of primary specimen collection, primary source of isolation (mandatory), submitting laboratory name and address, and clinical diagnosis.

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

Special Instructions

Transfer a fresh subculture of the organism to ensure viability on receipt.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Aerobic cultures are tested Monday to Friday.

Turnaround is 5-7 days from date of receipt at the PHO laboratory.

Test Methods

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

  • Gram stain
  • Catalase and oxidase
  • Biochemicals
  • 16S rRNA gene sequencing


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

Mis à jour le 25 sept. 2019