Throat, Wound & General Swabs

Specimen types you should send:

Throat Swabs for bacterial culture : (COPAN e-Swab)

  • For throat swabs samples taken from the inflammed areas of the pharynx are most likely to grow the causative organism of acute tonsillopharyngitis.

      General swabs (i.e. surface wound swabs, skin swabs, ulcer swabs) for bacterial culture: (COPAN e-Swab)

      • For a representative sample of a wound it is important that not only pus is sent but more importantly material from the advancing margin of the lesion. For abscesses the walls of the abscess should be firmly sampled.
      • Open lesions and open abscess (including burns wounds). Decontaminate the skin, sample the exudate from the base or margin of the lesion by firmly applying the swab to it.
      • Pustules and Vesicles Friction blisters of severe cellulitis are not appropriate for culture.
      • Vesicular lesions of suspected Chickenpox or Zoster should be sent for virological examination (see how to sample - Virology)
      • Further information is available in the Microbiology User Manual

      How to Collect the Sample

      • Disinfect the skin site thoroughly prior to puncture or incision. If necessary use sterile gloves and sterile drapes around the incision or puncture site.


      • See Pathology Labelling Policy. Label the specimen with patient information (First Name, Surname, DoB, location, physician, time and date) and also fill in those details on the request form.
      • A good history on the request form helps the laboratory tremendously.
      • In particular note the likelihood of specific diseases on the form which you would like us to look for. Tuberculosis is an often under-considered differential diagnosis but requires additional culture in our laboratory. It is essential to indicate if this is a high risk sample and indicate so with Danger of infection stickers.
    • Which Container does it go in?

      Image of types of containers for swabs

      A pictorial guide of how to use these swabs can be found here


      • Transport the sample to the laboratory as quickly as possible, refrigerate if not being sent immediately i.e within 1hr.
      • Samples requiring culture for Neisseria gonorrhoea must be received by the laboratory within 24 hours or the result may not be valid.
      • Stability and storage requirements of samples can be found in the Microbiology User Manual


      • Tissue samples should be sent to the laboratory as soon as possible in a sterile container, (maximum size 30ml)
      • See : Sterile Samples
      • Specimens of hair, nail of skin for fungal culture should be wrapped on clean paper and placed in an envelope. A collection kit for these specimens is available (ask the Mycology department for advice)
      • See : Superficial Sample Collection

      Page Reviewed: 12/10/17 | Updated by: Kevin Roberts