Types of Tests Offered 

The Microbiology Laboratory conducts a number of types of tests, including the following. 

Routine Testing 

Routine cultures for bacteria, fungi, mycobacteria, and viruses are performed on appropriately sent specimens. Blood cultures for bacteria and yeast are performed on specimens sent in blood culture bottles. Antibiotic susceptibility tests are performed on potentially pathogenic bacteria if methods and interpretative criteria are available for that particular bacterial species. Susceptibility testing on anaerobic organisms (those that can grow in the absence of oxygen) is not performed routinely and would only be done on isolates from sterile body sites on request. Yeast susceptibility tests are performed on isolates form sterile sites by request. Examination of stool and blood for parasites are also performed on appropriate specimens. Giardia and cryptosporidium antigen tests are performed routinely on all stool specimens sent for a parasite exam. 

Rapid Tests 

STAT gram stains are performed on cerebrospinal fluid and specimens obtained during surgery. Such staining allows for very rapid identification of certain types of bacteria. The lab performs testing for the C. difficile toxin B gene on diarrheatic stools 24 hours a day Monday through Fridays and 9 am to midnight weekends and holidays with a 2 hour turn-around-time for specimens sent directly to Microbiology (Tube Station 74). The laboratory will also perform rapid testing for Respiratory Syncitial virus (RSV) from nasopharyngeal swabs from pediatric and elderly patients placed into viral transport media and transported to the lab. DFA full form tests are also available against a viral respiratory panel using this specimen type from all patients.

Molecular Tests 

In addition to C. difficile, the laboratory will perform pre-surgical screening for S. aureus from nasal specimens. We also monitor for Methicillin-resistant Staph. Aureus (MRSA) from nasal specimens and measure HIV-1, hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV) levels (viral loads) on plasma specimens.