What Is A Throat Culture


What Is a Throat Culture? When Do I Need One?

When your doctor does a throat culture, he or she is looking for and identifying microorganisms at the back of your mouth that are causing you to become ill.

Why It’s Done

In the event that you or your kid complains of sore throat and your doctor suspects that anything other than a virus is to blame, he or she will most likely order this test. On the basis of a throat culture, it is possible to diagnose the following infections:

  • Strep throat, Scarlet andrheumatic fever, Gonorrhea (gonococcalpharyngitis), Thrush, Diphtheria, and Pertussis are among conditions that can occur.

How It’s Done

You’ll be asked to tilt your head back slightly, open your lips, and utter “Ahhhh” when you’ve completed the task. Your doctor will slide a cotton swab over the tonsil region at the back of your mouth rapidly and softly. They’ll put it in a germ-free container and send it to a laboratory for testing to determine its viability. Doctors then place the sample in a separate container with various substances that encourage bacteria and fungus to thrive and reproduce. The sort of germs that proliferate, if any, will indicate to your doctor what kind of infection you have been diagnosed with.

How It Feels

The test might be a bit unpleasant, but it only lasts a few seconds and is completely harmless. Occasionally, when the doctor swabs your throat, you may experience nausea and vomit. This is typical. However, you will need to remain motionless and keep your lips open in order for them to acquire a decent sample. They may miss certain germs if they do not do so, and you may not receive the proper medication.

How Soon Will I Get Results?

Because germs take a long time to thrive in a lab environment, results can take anywhere from 2 to 5 days. However, if your doctor suspects you may be suffering from strep throat, they will do a fast strep test during your appointment. It will produce benefits very immediately. If it is determined that you have strep, you will be given an antibiotic that is effective against a wide spectrum of pathogens. Even if the strep test comes back negative, if your throat culture comes back positive for strep or another illness, your doctor’s office will call you and adjust your prescription if necessary.

What Else Should I Know?

If you or your kid has a sore throat and has to see a doctor, you should avoid using mouthwash before your appointment. It might have an impact on the outcome of your throat culture.

Throat Culture

A throat culture is a test that is used to identify microorganisms (such as bacteria or fungi) that are capable of causing an illness. A sample of cells taken from the back of your throat is mixed with a chemical that encourages the growth of germs in order to test their viability. If no germs appear to be growing, the culture is considered negative. If bacteria that can cause illness thrive in the culture, the culture is considered positive. It is possible to determine the kind of germ by using a microscope or chemical testing.

  1. Sensitivity testing is the term used to describe this process.
  2. Thrush is caused by this fungus, which is an infection of the mouth, tongue, and occasionally the throat.
  3. Scarlet fever, andrheumatic fever and other illnesses are caused by this kind of bacterium.
  4. When using a quick strep test, results are available in 10 minutes, as opposed to 1 to 2 days when using a throat culture test.
  5. The accuracy of a throat culture is higher than that of a fast strep test.
  6. A throat culture is often recommended by clinicians when the results of a fast strep test come back negative, in order to ensure that strep throat is not present.
  7. This sort of bacterium has the potential to cause meningitis.
  8. Susceptibility testing, often known as sensitivity testing, is performed in this manner.

An infection with a virus, such as a cold or the flu, is the most common cause of sore throats. When it comes to viral illnesses, throat cultures are not performed. This is due to the fact that it is extremely difficult and expensive to develop viruses.

Why It Is Done

A throat culture may be performed for the following reasons:

  • Find out what is causing your sore throat. A virus is responsible for the majority of sore throat infections. A throat culture can tell the difference between a bacterial illness and a viral infection in the throat. This information can be used to guide therapy. Examine a person who may not be showing any signs of infection but who may be carrying microorganisms that can be transmitted to others. This individual is referred to as a carrier.

How To Prepare

  • In general, you don’t need to do anything before this test unless your doctor specifically instructs you to do so. Inform your doctor if you have taken any antibiotics during the last week.

How It Is Done

  • Then you’ll be instructed to tilt your head back and open your mouth as wide as you possibly can. Your doctor will use a flat stick (tongue depressor) to force your tongue down, after which he or she will check your mouth and throat. In order to take a sample, a clean cotton swab will be wiped over the back of your throat, over your tonsils, and over any red patches or sores
  • An alternative method of collecting the sample is with the use of a throat washout. For this test, you will gargle a tiny quantity of salt water and then spit the fluid into a clean cup to see if your teeth are sensitive. The sample obtained with this procedure is greater than that obtained with a throat swab. It has the potential to make the culture more dependable.

How long the test takes

It will take less than a minute to complete the test.

How It Feels

When the swab comes into contact with the back of your throat, you may experience gagging. If you have a sore throat, the swabbing procedure may be slightly uncomfortable.


There is extremely minimal possibility that you will have an issue as a result of this test.


In most cases, the results of a throat culture test for bacterial infections are available in 1 to 2 days, depending on which bacterium is being tested for. The results of a fungal test may take up to 7 days to arrive. The results of a rapid strep test are available in 10 to 15 minutes. Specifically, this test is used to detect bacterial infections caused by the Strep bacterium.

Rapid strep test

Normal (negative results): No strep bacteria are found. A throat culture may be recommended.
Abnormal (positive results): Strep bacteria are found. This means you havestrep throat. Antibiotics can be started right away.
Throat culture

Normal (negative) No infection (bacteria or fungi) grows in the culture.
A negative throat culture may mean that the cause of your infection is avirus, rather than bacteria or fungus.Some viruses that cause throat infections include:
  • Enteroviruses, Epstein-Barr viruses, Herpes simplex viruses, Respiratory syncytial viruses (RSVs), and other viruses
Abnormal (positive) Bacteria grow in the culture. Some bacterial throat infections include:
  • Diphtheria (Corynebacterium diphtheriae) and Strep throat are among the illnesses that can occur. Whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis.
Fungus grows in the culture. The most common fungal throat infection isthrush, caused by the fungusCandida albicans.


As of September 23, 2020, the information is current. Author:Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine Dr. Adam Husney is a Family Medicine specialist. Dr. Martin J. Gabica specializes in family medicine. As of September 23, 2020, the information is current. Written by a member of the Healthwise teamMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD, Internal Medicine Dr. Adam Husney is a Family Medicine specialist. Dr. Martin J.

Strep Test: Throat Culture (for Parents)

A throat culture, often known as a strep test, is conducted by swabbing the throat to identify the presence of bacteria belonging to the group Astreptococcus, which is the most prevalent cause of strep throat. Additionally, these bacteria are capable of causing additional illnesses, such as scarlet fever, abscesses, and pneumonia. During the test, a sample taken from the back of the neck is placed on a specific plate (culture) that allows bacteria to grow in the laboratory. Chemical tests are used to establish the precise type of illness present.

  1. Illness with Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects the back of the throat and the tonsils.
  2. It is possible to have white or yellow patches or a coating on the throat and tonsils, as well as swollen lymph nodes on the sides of the neck, in addition to these symptoms.
  3. Headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, and listlessness are all possible symptoms of the virus.
  4. However, while the symptoms of strep throat can subside within a few days without treatment, doctors will prescribe antibiotics to help avoid the development of linked problems that can be life-threatening, such as rheumatic fever.

Antibiotics can shorten the amount of time a person is infectious by as much as 50%.

Why It’s Done

The use of a throat culture test can aid in the identification of the source of a sore throat. Often, a sore throat is caused by a virus, but a throat culture will determine whether or not it is caused by strep bacteria, which will aid doctors in determining the most appropriate treatment option.


Encourage your youngster to remain calm and motionless throughout the operation. It is important to inform the doctor if your kid has recently taken any antibiotics, and you should attempt to prevent your child from using antiseptic mouthwash before the test because this may impact the results.


Maintaining complete stillness while the operation is essential. Make careful to notify the doctor if your kid has recently taken any antibiotics, and try to keep your child away from antiseptic mouthwash prior to the test because it might impact the findings of the test.

What to Expect

The swab may cause some gagging in your youngster if it comes into contact with the back of the throat. If your child’s throat is irritated, the swabbing procedure may cause some discomfort for a short period of time.

Getting the Results

When the swab hits the back of the throat, your kid may experience some gagging. A little pain may be experienced by your youngster if his or her throat is irritated.


However, there are no hazards connected with a throat culture test despite the fact that it is painful.

Helping Your Child

Explaining the exam in a way that your child can comprehend may help to alleviate any anxiety. Encourage your child to relax and remain motionless throughout the examination so that the health expert may thoroughly swab his or her throat and tonsils.

If You Have Questions

If you have any queries concerning the throat culture strep test, you should consult with your physician.

Throat Swab Culture: What You Need to Know

In case you have any doubts concerning the throat culture and strep test, you should consult with your doctor.

Throat swab culture: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

It is possible to discover microorganisms that may cause illness in the throat by the use of a throat swab culture, which may be performed in a laboratory. The most common application of this test is to identify strep throat. You will be requested to tilt your head back and open your mouth wide in order to complete the task. In order to check for tonsillitis, your health care practitioner will use a sterile cotton swab to rub around the back of your throat near your tonsils. You will need to maintain your composure and avoid gagging or shutting your mouth while the swab is in this area.

  • This improves the likelihood of finding germs in the first place.
  • When this test is performed, it is possible that your throat will be painful.
  • When a throat infection, particularly strep throat, is suspected, this test is performed to rule it out.
  • The absence of bacteria or other germs that might cause a sore throat indicates that the test was normal or negative.
  • There are no risks associated with this test and it is rather painless.
  • Thrush culture and sensitivity; Throat culture and sensitivity Bryant AE, Stevens DL, and colleagues Streptococcus pyogenes is a kind of bacteria.
  • Mannell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases.

Nussenbaum, B., and Bradford, C.R., eds., 9th ed., Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 197.

Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, and colleagues (eds.).

2015:chap 9 of the 6th edition published by Elsevier Saunders in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Stevens, A.E.

Hagman Nonpneumococcal streptococcal infections and rheumatic fever are two of the most common.

Goldman and A.I.

Goldman-Cecil Medicine is a type of alternative medicine.

26th ed.

Acute pharyngitis is a throat infection that occurs suddenly.

Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds.

Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds.

Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.

Linda J.

In addition, David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial staff examined the manuscript for accuracy.

Throat Culture (Routine)

It is possible to discover microorganisms that may cause illness in the throat by the use of a throat swab culture, which may be done in a laboratory. Strep throat is the most common condition for which it is used. You will be requested to tilt your head back and open your mouth wide in order to complete the task successfully. A sterile cotton swab will be rubbed around the back of your throat, near your tonsils, by your health care professional. During the time the swab is in this area, you must refrain from gagging or shutting your mouth.

  1. Bacteria can be detected more easily as a result of this.
  2. When this test is performed, it is possible that your throat will get painful.
  3. When a throat infection, particularly strep throat, is suspected, this test is performed to confirm the suspicion.
  4. The presence of no bacteria or other pathogens that might cause a sore throat indicates a normal or negative result.
  5. Safety and tolerability are the hallmarks of this test.
  6. Culture and sensitivity of the throat; Culture – throat Danielle Stevens (AE) and Andrew Bryant (AE) Streptococcus pyogenes is a kind of bacteria that can cause a bacterial infection in humans.
  7. ), ed.

Adults with pharyngitis.

Head and Neck Surgery at Cummings Otolaryngology.


Stevens, A.

Bryant, and M.

Hagman Rheumatic fever is caused by nonpneumococcal streptococcal infections.

and Schafer AI.

Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2020: chap 274.

Tanz, RR.



Kliegman RM, St.

Kliegman RM, St.

Kliegman RM, St.

Kliegman Textbook of Pediatrics by Nelson et al.

Linda J.

Additional reviewers were David Zieve (MD/MHA), Medical Director; Brenda Conaway (editorial director); and members of the American Dental Association of Medicine (ADAM) Editorial Board.

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  • Group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus (GABHS, S.pyogenes) is the bacteria that is isolated from throat swabs and is the focus of this culture. This test is used to determine whether a patient has streptococcal pharyngitis, which is most commonly seen in youngsters. Patients often appear with moderate to severe pharyngitis, as well as systemic symptoms such as fever, malaise, headache, and stomach discomfort, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Other symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, diarrhea, and other symptoms are more indicative of another cause, which is generally viral.
  • When children have negative S.pyogenes antigen screening tests, a GABHS throat culture is advised to validate the results. It is not necessary to do confirmation cultures on people who have had negative antigen test findings if the specific antigen test performed has an 80 percent sensitivity
  • Preventing nonsuppurative consequences of GABHS pharyngitis is the primary reason for early detection of the condition. RF, glomerulonephritis, and other consequences of GABHS infection can be prevented if antibiotics are used during the acute phase of the illness. Pharyngitis caused by GABHS may also be worsened by an abscess on the tonsillar bone or by other types of suppurative pararespiratory infections. In the case of verified strep throat, a GABHS throat culture is not indicated as a measure of cure since cultures may reveal clinically inconsequential low-level carriage after effective therapy.
  • Swabs are used to vigorously massage the affected tonsillar and posterior pharyngeal mucosa, taking care to avoid contamination by the tongue, buccal mucosa, or other mucosal surfaces. The swab is delivered to the laboratory in transport medium, which is in accordance with usual recommendations for bacterial specimen transportation.
  • GABHS is isolated by inoculating throat swabs onto SBA
  • Selective agar is used by certain laboratories to limit the development of normal endogenous flora and to make the isolation of GABHS more straightforward. S.pyogenesisolates cultures are cultured for 24–48 hours, after which they are shown to be reliably sensitive to penicillin, the therapy of choice. It is not necessary to undertake antimicrobial susceptibility testing unless specifically asked because of a penicillin allergy. Turnaround time:Cultures are analyzed for 24–48 hours after they are received. In the case of substantially contaminated specimens, an extra day may be necessary for isolation and identification of probable isolates from such specimens.
  • Swabs taken from the throat are inoculated onto SBA
  • Some laboratories inoculate selective agar to limit the development of normal endogenous flora and enable the isolation of GABHS. S.pyogenesisolates cultures are cultured for 24–48 hours, after which they are shown to be reliably responsive to penicillin, the preferred therapy. In the absence of a request due to a penicillin allergy, antimicrobial susceptibility testing is not conducted. Process time: Cultures are studied for 24–48 hours after they are received. If suspected isolates from extensively contaminated specimens are isolated and identified, it is possible that an extra day may be needed to complete the process.
  • GABHS is isolated by inoculating throat swabs onto SBA
  • Selective agar is used by certain laboratories to limit the growth of normal endogenous flora and to make the isolation of GABHS more efficient. S.pyogenesisolates cultures are incubated for 24–48 hours, after which they are shown to be consistently sensitive to penicillin, the therapy of choice. In the absence of a request due to a penicillin allergy, antimicrobial susceptibility testing is not conducted. Turnaround time:Cultures are analyzed for 24–48 hours after they have been received. In the case of substantially contaminated specimens, an extra day may be necessary for isolation and identification of suspected isolates
  • Aside from viruses (which are the most prevalent), mycoplasmas, beta-hemolytic streptococci of groups C and G, and Arcanobacterium hemolyticum are all potential causes of pharyngitis. In those who are at risk, N.gonorrhoeae should be considered. It is uncommon in the United States, but it should be explored in people who are at risk for the disease. It is frequently necessary to conduct further tests in order to discover pathogens other than S.pyogenes from throat cultures
  • GABHS can cause illness in other locations, particularly cellulitis. A request for routine bacterial cultures that are acceptable for these locations should be made.

Throat Culture: Reference Range, Interpretation, Collection and Panels

In medical and scientific terminology, the throat is referred to as the pharynx, and it can be further subdivided into the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx. The oropharynx, and to a lesser extent the nasopharynx, is responsible for containing the lymphoid tissues of the upper aero-digestive tract, which is comprised of the numerous groups of tonsils, which is known as the Waldeyer ring. When viruses enter the body, these tonsillar tissues are among the first lines of protection the body has available to them.

As a result, it serves as a crossroads where infectious agents, also known as pathogens, may obtain access to any of the largely sterile locations mentioned above.

In addition to providing antigens that drive the development of antibodies in the tonsils, which results in humoral immunity, this resident flora also causes the accumulation and continual turnover of T-lymphocytes, macrophages, and mast cells, which results in cellular immunity.

  • Common inhabitants (representing 50% of the healthy general population) include the following: Oral streptococci, Neisseria species, Branhamella, Corynebacteria, Bacteroides, anaerobic cocci (Veillonella), fusiform bacteria,Candida albicans, Streptococcus mutans, Haemophilus influenza Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Neisseria meningitides are occasional inhabitants (10 percent of the healthy general population): C diphtheriae, Klebsiella pneumonia (as well asPseudomonas, Escherichia coli, and Candida albicans) are uncommon inhabitants (1 percent of the healthy general population)
  • Residents in a dormant condition in tissues, lungs, and lymph nodes include the following: Pneumocystis carinii, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) are examples of pathogens. Herpes simplex virus and Epstein-Barr virus are found in sensory neurones and glands that are related to mucosae.

Any injury to the body has the potential to modify and attenuate the resident flora of the throat, resulting in inadequacy of the immune system’s above-mentioned mechanisms of immunity, resulting in a condition of immunosuppression. Infection with a virus, abuse or misuse of medicines and/or steroids, radiotherapy, thermal or chemical assaults, and acute leukemias are all potential acute causes of this condition. The conditions of anemia, diabetes, renal or hepatic illness, long-term steroid usage, and cancer all contribute to chronic immunosuppression.

  1. Viruses such as herpes simplex, adenoviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus are responsible for over seventy percent of upper respiratory infections (RSV).
  2. More severe viral infections can arise in epidemic or pandemic forms, and are caused by viruses that are particularly aggressive in their ability to infect people.
  3. It is frequently known as strep throat or streptococcal sore throat because S pyogenes, the most common bacterial pathogen of the throat, is a group A beta-hemolyticStreptococcus (GABHS), and the infection is caused by S pyogenes.
  4. All beta-hemolytic colonies on throat culture must be examined to ensure that S pyogenes is not the causative agent.
  5. Streptococci colonies with beta-hemolysis have been identified.
  6. However, whereas the symptoms of a viral infection can be alleviated with supportive care, the symptoms of an infection caused by bacteria require antibiotic treatment to be initiated as soon as possible following the identification of the organism and its antibiotic sensitivity.
  7. The use of specific medium such as Thayer-Martin or Martin-Lewis is necessary in order to isolate this bacterium.
  8. In order to rule out the possibility of Neisseriameningitidis being a resident throat pathogen, colonies of this kind growing on selective medium should be found and isolated further.
  9. Colonies of the twoNeisseriaspecies may be distinguished by performing biochemical tests on them.
  10. The pathogen produces compact, opaque, white or gray colonies that are white or gray in color.
  11. Palisades are made up of individual cells that are arranged parallel to one another.

Additional tests are necessary for confirmation, including Albert staining on a smear, growth in Loeffler serum, culture in Mueller-Hinton tellurite agar, the Schick test for susceptibility, and the Elek test for toxigenicity, among other things.


There are several primary applications for a throat culture, including the following:

  • Detection and confirmation of a viral infection (in the absence of harmful microorganisms)
  • Identification of a strep throat or diphtheria infection Exclusion of a carrier state from consideration
  • Establishing an organism’s antibiotic sensitivity by testing its DNA
  • Determination of the presence of meningococci


Testing kits for throat culture should be subjected to rigorous examination by the relevant laboratories before being widely used to guarantee that they have the highest possible sensitivity and specificity. An notable contraindication to throat culture is suspected acute epiglottitis, in which efforts to acquire a throat swab can be disastrous and even fatal, especially in children, because it can trigger a complete blockage of the patient’s airway. Obtaining a sample for culture in circumstances when empirical antibiotic therapy has already been initiated has little practical use.

Throat Culture

The bacterium streptococcus causes “strep throat,” which is a contagious infection. The following signs and symptoms may be present in a kid who has strep throat:

  • A red throat
  • White dots on the back of the throat
  • And so forth Fever
  • Difficulties swallowing
  • Glands in the neck that are swollen

An examination of your child’s throat culture may be recommended if your doctor suspects strep throat. Germ (bacteria) testing can determine whether or not your child’s sore throat is caused by germs (bacteria).

The Throat Culture

Your youngster will be asked to “open wide” as part of the procedure. It will be necessary to touch the back of the neck with two cotton-tipped swabs. A “rapid strep test screen” will be performed at the laboratory. The test can take up to half an hour in most cases. You will be requested to wait until the findings of the test have been read to you. The lab will do an additional test if the fast strep test screen results in a negative result. A second swab sample will not be necessary for the follow-up test on your child.

If the test results are positive, the doctor will be contacted by the laboratory the next day, according to the protocol.

  • A positive test result indicates that your kid has “strep throat,” which is caused by germs. The use of antibiotic medication within a few days is required to prevent bacteria from developing cardiac issues. If you do not have a home phone, please provide us with a phone number where we may reach you if necessary. If the test results come back positive, we will need to contact you. If the test results are negative, it is possible that the sore throat is caused by a virus. Antibiotic medication is not administered since it is ineffective against viral infections.

Caring for Your Child

Keep your child home from school until he or she has taken an antibiotic drug for at least 24 hours, according to the manufacturer. Inform the school nurse that your kid is suffering from strep throat.

  • If your child has a fever, he should remain indoors and play quietly. If your child’s fever is above 102 degrees F for more than 2 to 3 days or does not improve, the doctor should examine him or her again. Encourage your youngster to consume large amounts of liquids that are not carbonated, such as water. Grape or apple juice, water, flavored fruit drinks, and popsicles are examples of such beverages. Give soft meals only when your child has a desire for them. (Swallowing may cause discomfort in the throat.) Gargling with salt water may help to alleviate throat discomfort. (Dissolve 12 teaspoon salt in 12 cup warm water and use every 3 to 4 hours, or as directed by your healthcare provider.) It is important not to let your youngster drink the salt water
  • Plan activities for your children that are quiet and do not need them to chat. The soreness in the throat might be exacerbated by talking. Use a cool mist vaporizer in your child’s room to help decrease fever and pain. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen (such as Tylenol® or Motrin®) can be given to help alleviate fever and pain as well as reduce fever and discomfort. Follow the doctor’s instructions. Products containing aspirin should not be given to children. After your child has been taking the antibiotic medication for 24 hours, dispose of his or her toothbrush and toothbrush case. It should be replaced with a new one. This will aid in the prevention of re-infection. To avoid re-infection, thoroughly wash toys with hot water and soap.

How to Protect Others

  • Maintain as much separation as possible between your kid and others during the first 24 hours after the youngster begins taking the medication. If any other members of the family get sore throats, they should be examined by their doctors. Check to see that no one else is drinking from or using your child’s glass or spoon or fork. Train your family to wash their hands at least four times a day, particularly after using the toilet and before eating.

Don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor or nurse if you have any queries. Throat Culture (PDF) HH-III-481/80, Revised 4/17 Copyright 1980, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Throat Culture

Antibiotics are required for the treatment of a throat infection caused by the streptococcus bacterium (also known as strep throat). A throat culture is the usual method of determining whether or not you have streptococcus bacteria on your tongue or throat surface. Throat cultures can also be used to discover other microorganisms that may be causing the sore throat.

How do I prepare for the test?

There is no need to prepare ahead of time.

What happens when the test is performed?

An infected cotton swab is placed against the back of your throat to collect a sample of mucus to be tested. This takes only a second or two, and some people have a momentary sensation of gagging or choking as a result. After that, the mucus sample is placed on a culture plate, which aids in the growth of any bacteria present in the mucus sample, allowing them to be inspected and identified. For the benefit of our readers, Harvard Health Publishing makes our archival content available to them via a secure website.

Please include a note of the date of the most recent review or update for each article. No information on this site, regardless of when it was published, should ever be considered as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained healthcare professional.

Throat culture – Wikipedia

Throat culture
Purpose diagnose bacteria or fungal infection in throat

In a laboratory diagnostic procedure, a throat culture is performed to determine whether a bacterial or fungal infection is present in the throat. Taking a sample from the throat is done by swabbing the throat and placing the sample in a specific cup (culture) that allows the infection to develop and spread. If an organism develops in the culture, the culture is considered positive, and the existence of an infection is verified by testing. The kind of infection is determined by utilizing a microscope, chemical testing, or a combination of the two.

Throat cultures are commonly used to detect infectious organisms such asCandida albicans, which is renowned for causing thrush, and Group A streptococci.

When it comes to diagnosing strep throat, throat cultures are more sensitive (81 percent sensitive) than the fast strep test (70 percent specific), but they are roughly comparable in terms of specificity.


A throat culture may be performed in order to determine the source of the sore throat. The majority of sore throats are brought on by viral infections. While it is possible that a sore throat is caused by something other than bacteria in certain situations, a throat culture can be performed to pinpoint the source of the illness. The identification of the pathogenic organism can aid in therapy planning.


During the throat culture procedure, the individual being tested is requested to tilt his or her head back and open his or her mouth. The health care provider will use a tongue depressor to force the tongue down and inspect the mouth and throat for any abnormalities. For the collection of the sample, a clean swab will be rubbed over the back of the throat, over the tonsils, and over any red patches or sores on the throat. An alternative method of collecting the sample is with the use of a throat washout.

This approach yields a bigger sample than a throat swab and may result in a more accurate culture if used correctly.

See also

  • Antibiogram, bacterial culture, laboratory specimen, rapid strep test
  • These are all terms that are used in the medical field.


Clearly, quick tests for the identification of streptococci are here to stay, and the advancement of technology is likely to continue in the future. The most logical use of these tests is to detect streptococcal pharyngitis in individuals who are experiencing severe symptoms or in unique scenarios that necessitate early identification. A throat culture is adequate for the majority of other patients, and all negative fast tests should be confirmed by a throat culture in all other cases. If either the quick test or the culture results in a positive result, specific antistreptococcal medication should be undertaken.

If further confirmation of the illness is required in these circumstances, a throat culture should be sufficient. There is no one fast strep test kit that surpasses the others. The quality of the specimen is critical in every test since it determines the outcome.

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  • 8(3):177-82. The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice published a paper in 1995 called J Am Board Fam Pract.PMID:7618495. Rapid antigen detection testing in the diagnosis of group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal pharyngitis is being investigated in a clinical trial. In AK Leung and colleagues (Leung AK, et al., Newman R, Kumar A, Davies HD), AK Leung and colleagues 2006 Sep
  • 6(5):761-6. doi: 10.1586/14737159.6.5.761. Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics. Expert Review of Molecular Diagnostics. 2006.PMID:17009909 Review of selective testing procedures for detecting a specific group of patients A comprehensive review and prospective multicenter external validation study of a streptococcal infection in children with pharyngitis were conducted. The Cohen family (JF Cohen, R Cohen, C Levy, Thollot, Benani, Bidet, and Chalumeau) has a long history of service to the community. Cohen, JF, and colleagues CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) 2015 Jan 6
  • 187(1):23-32. Doi: 10.1503/cmaj.140772 (Commonwealth of Massachusetts). The article was published on December 8th, 2014. The Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2015.PMID:25487666 PMC article that is completely free. Review

How to Collect a Throat Swab Specimen [VIDEO]

Do you have a patient who is showing indications of strep throat or another bacterial infection? If so, call us right once. A throat swab culture is the quickest and most accurate method of testing and diagnosing bacterial infections. The technique for collecting a throat swab culture is straightforward, but it must be done precisely. It is essential that you do the task correctly. This short video demonstrates precisely what you need to accomplish, step-by-step. Additionally, you may follow along with a video transcript provided below.

Steps to Collect a Throat Swab Specimen

  1. Hands should be well cleaned. Put on gloves, a surgical mask, and protective eyewear to protect yourself. Place the patient in front of a bright light to ensure that the region to be swabbed is clearly visible
  2. Aseptically remove the HydraFlock®flocked swab from the container after opening the box containing it. To begin, ask the patient to tilt their head backwards and open their mouth while sticking out their tongue. To keep the tongue in place, use a wooden tongue depressor (see Resources). Without touching either side of the mouth, swab the back of the throat and the arches of the tonsils with the sterile HydraFlock® flocked swab
  3. Then repeat on the other side. Swab the sterile liquid amies delivery system vial with a cotton swab
  4. Break the swab handle at the line where the breakpoint was scored
  5. Replace the cap and tighten it to ensure it is secure
  6. Remove the gloves and mask and dispose of them in an aseptic manner. Label the vial of liquid amies with the necessary information. Deliver samples to a testing facility for analysis

As a result of watching this video transcript, maybe you now have a better understanding (or a much-needed reminder) of how to acquire a throat swab specimen for bacterial identification.

Don’t Forget a Quality Specimen Transport System

It is meant to collect and transport germs that are clinically relevant. The PuritanOpti-Swab® Liquid AmiesCollectionTransport Systems are used for this purpose. It is preferable to use a system that contains a leak-proof, self-centering cap, together with a high performance fleece swab with an integrated breakpoint, for the most accurate results. It includes everything you need to swiftly and simply collect any type of bacterial specimen with an amies conveyance system that has been properly constructed.


For any queries regarding the Puritan products to use for throat swabs or bacterial collection and transfer, please do not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable product representative right away.

Follow that Throat Culture: A Short Lab Tour

A swab of your throat is taken by your health-care professional in order to check for an infection. Have you ever been curious about what happens to your sample once it has been collected? But what exactly does it require to send something “to the lab” for culturing? This essay will take you on a journey through the process of processing a throat culture. In the laboratory, skilled laboratorians analyze your sample using a variety of procedures that are specified by the sorts of tests that you want to be done.

There is an appropriate sample for every exam that delivers the most useful information for that particular test.

The Steps

A culture is a type of test that is frequently used to diagnose infectious diseases. Collection of a sample from the site of infection followed by inoculation into solid or liquid nutritional medium (e.g., agar or gelatin) with the goal of growing any microorganisms such as bacteria or fungus that may be present. It is possible to run cultures on a wide range of bodily fluids such as blood, urine, feces, sputum, and pus from a cut or a wound.

The procedures used to collect samples are consequently dependent on the location of the suspected illness as well as the type of sample being collected. A throat culture is an example of a procedure in which a swab is rubbed over the back of the throat to obtain a sample for culture purposes.

Labeling the culture sample

Immediately following the collection of the throat sample, the swab is placed in a transport tube to prevent it from being contaminated or drying out, and the transport tube is labeled. There are numerous instances where the label will be pre-printed with the patient’s name and unique patient identification number, or it will be barcoded with that information.


It is necessary to mark samples before transporting them to the laboratory, where they will be entered into the laboratory information system. Once the sample has arrived at the lab, no matter how close or far it has traveled, it will be entered into the laboratory’s tracking system. A complete set of information is contained on the label to guarantee that the findings of the test performed on the sample are associated with the relevant individual. Typically, a paper or electronic requisition form with the name and address of the health practitioner (as well as the patient’s details) is supplied with the sample in order for the results to be sent to the proper person.

Preparing the culture

Following receipt of a throat swab sample, a laboratorian will transfer the sample to nutritional medium, such as blood agar plate, which will allow bacteria to grow and multiply. In the shot above, the swab is being gently wiped over the surface of the agar to remove any remaining particles.


It is necessary to place the labeled agar plate in an incubator, which is a chamber that maintains a constant temperature that is comparable to your body temperature as well as a precise amount of carbon dioxide that is best for bacterial development. The culture of the throat sample is typically kept in the incubator for 18 to 24 hours in order to give any bacteria that may be present enough time to thrive.


Upon completion of incubation, the culture will be visually examined by a laboratory specialist. Some bacteria have a distinctive look that allows a laboratory expert to presumptively identify the individual bacterium; nevertheless, additional biochemical or serological tests are normally required to confirm the identification of the bacteria. To distinguish between potentially dangerous bacteria and typical throat flora that are not hazardous and do not require treatment, the laboratory specialist must perform a variety of tests.

Testing for treatment

When it comes to bacterial causes of sore throats, the most prevalent is an infection with group A streptococcus. If these hazardous bacteria are found in the throat culture, the affected individual will be given medicines to treat the infection as soon as possible. Further testing is typically not required in the case of group A streptococcal infection since the right antibiotic therapy is foreseeable in this situation. A diagnostic test known as an antibiotic susceptibility test may be required for some other types of cultures that are positive for pathogenic bacteria.

Susceptibility methods are used to test bacteria for their ability to resist antibiotics.

Following an overnight incubation stage, the absence of bacterial growth surrounding the disk suggests that the antibiotic has the capacity to suppress the bacteria in that area.

The results of this test provide information to the health practitioner on which antibiotic to administer in order to cure the illness.

Culture report

The findings of the culture will be entered into the laboratory information system. You have several options for communicating with your health practitioner: online, by fax, in writing, or over the phone. Our bi-monthly newsletter provides the most up-to-date information about laboratory testing. Your privacy is extremely important to us.

Is your sore throat strep?

Are you concerned that your sore throat may be caused by strep throat? Adults are less likely than children to have strep throat, which is a frequent kind of sore throat in youngsters. The presence of strep throat may be determined quickly by doctors using a simple test. If this is the case, medications can help you feel better sooner while also preventing the infection from spreading to others.

Bacteria Cause Strep Throat

When it comes to sore throats, viruses are the most typical culprits. Strep throat, on the other hand, is an infection of the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria belonging to the group AStreptococcus (group A strep).

How You Get Strep Throat

Group A strep infection is a bacterial infection that lives in the nose and throat and can readily transmit to other persons. It is vital to understand that some infected persons may not show any signs of illness or do not appear to be unwell. When infected individuals cough or sneeze, they produce minute respiratory droplets that carry the germs, which transmit the infection. People can become ill if they do any of the following:

  • Droplets should be inhaled, or they should be touched and then their mouth or nose should be touched. Drinking from or eating from the same glass or plate as a sick individual is not recommended. Impetigo is a term used to describe skin lesions produced by group A strep bacteria.

The CDC’s food safety page provides more information on the possibility of spreading group A strep through improperly prepared foods. Experts do not believe that pets or household goods, such as toys, are responsible for the spread of these germs.

Pain and Fever without a Cough Are Common Signs and Symptoms

In most cases, strep throat is a benign illness, but it can be quite painful in some cases. The following are the most prevalent symptoms of strep throat:

  • Throat discomfort that can develop extremely fast
  • When swallowing, there is discomfort. Fever
  • Tonsils that are red and swollen, with white spots or streaks of pus on them at times
  • Petechiae (pronounced pi-TEE-kee-eye) are small, red spots that appear on the roof of the mouth (either the soft or hard palate). Frontal lymph node swelling
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

In addition to these symptoms, particularly in youngsters, a headache, stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting may occur. Scleroderma, often known as scarlet fever, can develop in people who have strep throat (also called scarlatina). When the following symptoms are present, it is more likely that a virus is the source of the sickness rather than strep throat:

  • Coughing, runny nose, and other symptoms Changes in your voice that cause it to sound breathy, raspy, or strained
  • Hoarseness Inflammation of the conjunctiva (commonly known as pink eye)

In most cases, it takes two to five days for someone who has been exposed to group A strep to develop symptoms. Some of the most frequent indications and symptoms of strep throat are a painful throat that develops fast, pain while swallowing, and a fever, among other things.

Children and Certain Adults Are at Increased Risk

The chance of developing this common illness can be increased by a number of circumstances, including smoking and drinking alcohol in excess. Children are more likely than adults to contract strep throat. It is most frequent in youngsters between the ages of 5 and 15 years old. It is quite unusual in children under the age of three. Adults who are at higher risk for strep throat include those who are overweight or obese.

  • Parents of school-aged children
  • Adults who have frequent interaction with children
  • People who work with children

It is the most prevalent risk factor for strep throat to be in close contact with another person who has the infection. For example, if someone has strep throat, it is common for the infection to spread to other members of the family.

Infectious diseases have a tendency to spread whenever big groups of people congregate in close proximity. If you live in close quarters, you may be more likely to get group A strep infection. These options are as follows:

  • Schools, daycare centers, and military training facilities are just a few examples.
  • Approximately one in every ten youngsters who complain of a sore throat has strep throat. Approximately one in every ten individuals who gets a sore throat has strep throat.

A Simple Test Gives Fast Results

Only a quick strep test or a throat culture will be able to identify if group A strep is the source of the infection. Taking one peek at someone’s throat will not be enough for a doctor to determine if they have strep. A quick strep test is swabbing the throat and doing a test on the swab once it has been collected. The test can determine whether group A strep is the source of the sickness in a short period of time. If the test results are positive, physicians will be able to recommend antibiotics.

  • It takes time to observe if group A strep bacteria develop from a throat sample during a throat culture.
  • Children and teenagers should be taught about culture because they are at risk of developing rheumatic fever if they do not receive treatment for a strep throat infection.
  • Generally speaking, those who have had a strep throat infection are not at risk of contracting rheumatic fever.
  • If you or your kid do not feel better after taking antibiotics for 48 hours, consult your doctor.

Antibiotics Get You Well Fast

Antibiotics are used to treat strep throat at doctors’ offices. For patients who are not allergic to penicillin, either penicillin or amoxicillin is advised as a first-line antibiotic treatment. People who are allergic to penicillin might have their strep throat treated with different medicines, according to their doctor. Antibiotics provide a number of advantages, including:

  • Reducing the length of time a person is unwell
  • Decreasing symptoms (making a person feel better)
  • Preventing the bacterium from spreading to others
  • Preventing serious problems such as rheumatic fever from occurring

Someone who tests positive for strep throat but does not exhibit any symptoms (referred to as a “carrier”) is unlikely to require antibiotics. They have a lower risk of spreading the bacterium to others and are extremely unlikely to develop problems. In the event that a carrier has a virus-induced sore throat disease, the quick strep test may result in a positive result. It might be difficult to determine what is causing the painful throat in these situations. If a person continues to develop a sore throat despite taking the appropriate medicines, they may be a strep carrier who is also suffering from a viral throat infection.

Serious Complications Are Not Common but Can Happen

After a strep throat infection, it is possible to develop complications. A bacterial infection that has spread to other places of the body might result in this. The following are examples of complications:

  • Tonsil abscesses (pus-filled pockets) surrounding the tonsils
  • Lymph nodes in the neck that are swollen
  • Infections of the sinuses
  • Infections of the ears
  • Rheumatic fever (a heart condition)
  • Rheumatic arthritis Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (a kidney condition) is caused by bacteria.

Protect Yourself and Others

People can contract strep throat more than once in their lives. Being infected with strep throat does not shield a person from contracting it again in the future. While there is currently no vaccination available to prevent strep throat, there are steps people may take to protect themselves and others from contracting the infection. Group A Strep Infections can be prevented with good hygiene.

The most effective technique to avoid contracting or spreading group A solution is to wash and soften your hands. When you cough or sneeze, it’s very vital to wash your hands immediately before preparing or eating food. You should do the following in order to maintain healthy hygiene:

  • When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose to prevent infection. Dispose of your used tissues in the rubbish basket. To avoid contaminating your hands, use your upper sleeve or elbow rather than your hands to cough or sneeze if you don’t have a tissue
  • Hands should be washed often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

You should also wash any glasses, cutlery, or plates that have been used by someone who is unwell after they have been used. Once these goods have been cleaned, they are safe for others to use. Hand washing on a regular basis will assist to prevent germs from spreading. Antibiotics aid in the prevention of the spread of infection to others. People who have strep throat should avoid going to work, school, or childcare until they have recovered from the infection.

  • I’m no longer suffering from a fever. OR have been taking antibiotics for at least 12 hours
  • AND

Follow the directions on the prescription exactly as directed by the doctor. It is important not to stop taking the drug even if you or your kid is feeling better, unless your doctor directs you to do so.

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