Throat Culture

Definition - What does Throat Culture mean?

A throat culture is a test done to screen for bacterial or fungal infections such as thrush, strep throat, and scarlet fever. The specimen is taken by running a swab over the surface inside a patient's throat, including areas where sores may have formed, or by having the patient gargle a bit of salt water and then spit the fluid specimen into a specimen cup. The specimen is then then sent to the laboratory for a throat culture, in which they will attempt to grow bacteria from the specimen. Throat cultures are important in workplace health because coughing can quickly spread contageous viruses and bacteria that infect the throat.

WorkplaceTesting explains Throat Culture

A throat culture is a common test for several high infectious diseases that could quickly infect a large portion of the workforce if undetected. By encouraging employees who appear to be ill to get tested quickly (or by having a nurse on site that can perform the test) and therefore get treatment quicker, employers can reduce overall health costs and reduce sick days taken.

A throat culture comes in several forms. There are standard cultures that take more time as the laboratory waits for bacteria or viruses to grow and for some conditions there are quick tests that return almost immediate results but are not as accurate. Because of this inaccuracy and the speed at which some of the illnesses detected by throat culture can develop, many medical practitioners will treat for the suspected infection based on symptoms even if a quick test throat culture returns a negative result.

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