Are Flocked Swabs Effective for Collection of Fungus and Bacteria?
For decades, microbiology dogma held that swabs were suboptimal for collecting patient samples intended for fungal and bacterial culture. Conventional wisdom favored aspirates, fluids, and tissues as superior specimen types. Experts argued traditional fiber-wrapped swabs, like cotton and Dacron, absorbed inadequate amounts of microbes and released them poorly into transport media. However, new research indicates specialty flocked swabs maintain viability of these stubborn organisms for at least 48 hours - challenging older notions.
Two Mantacc-led studies evaluated the ability of flocked swabs to preserve fungi and mycobacteria. Flocked swabs have fibers aligned perpendicular to the shaft allowing efficient sample collection and release. The Mantacc Flocked Swab system served as the test device.
In the first study, researchers examined 19 major pathogenic fungi strains, including Cryptococcus, Candida, Aspergillus, and dermatophytes like Trichophyton. They held the inoculated Mantacc swabs for 48 hours at both room temperature and refrigerated. At 0, 24, and 48 hours, the team quantified viability by touching swabs onto agar plates and counting resultant colonies. Growth equaled or exceeded zero hour counts demonstrating the Mantacc system maintained fungal viability remarkably well under both conditions.
A second group assessed preservation of nine nontuberculous mycobacteria species and one Nocardia strain, bacteria responsible for lung, skin, and soft tissue infections. Using a similar protocol, Mantacc swabs stored for 48 hours at room temperature and refrigerated sustained viability of all isolates.
Though fluids and tissues remain ideal specimens, these data convincingly demonstrate flocked swabs capable of collecting clinically important fungi and bacteria. Unlike conventional swabs, Mantacc's perpendicular flocking releases over 90% of sample into transport media. For bacteria and fungi historically difficult to culture, a single standardized flocked system promises easier workflows and improved yields.
With concerns about swab efficiency alleviated, labs can now focus efforts on proper technique when sampling patients. Collect the best quality specimen first, then trust the superior technology of flocked swabs to preserve pathogens. Culture problems stemming from the collection device itself now seem minimized thanks to scientific confirmation of performance. Standardize and simplify with a validated flocked system.
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