Collection of Nasal Swabs for Culture and MRSA Screening

PRINCIPLE:

Swabs from the anterior nares may be obtained for culture to identify suspected pathogens and for MRSA screening in patients at risk for nasal colonization.

SPECIMEN COLLECTION AND HANDLING:

Nasal swab for culture:  The anterior nare will be swabbed by a moistened culturette. Both left and right nares can be swabbed using a single culturette swab. Swabs for nasal culture should be delivered to the microbiology department.

Nasal swab for MRSA screen:

Swabs in a Liquid Stuart transport (red cap culturette) are to be used.

Insert both of the dry swabs approximately 1-2cm into nostril. Rotate the swabs against the inside of the nostril while applying slight pressure with a finger on the outside of the nose. Using the same swabs, repeat for the second nostril, trying not to touch anything but the inside of the nose. Place both swabs into the plastic transport container, label with proper patient information (name, date of birth, specimen type, time of collection, date of collection, collectors intials) and transport to the lab immediately. Swabs for MRSA screening should be delivered to the microbiology department.

The swab specimen can be stored at room temperature (15-30°C) if it will be processed within 24 hours, otherwise store swab at 2-8°C. The swab specimen is stable up to 5 days when stored at 2-8°C.