Nasopharyngeal swab/aspirate

Last updated: Thursday, 18, October, 2007

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Fine flexible wire swab or aspirate with direct smear where appropriate.


DFA smears, EIA, or nucleic acid probe after PCR amplification (on aspirate) for Bordetella pertussis or respiratory viruses.

Special bacterial culture for B. pertussis has been replaced by nucleic acid probe after PCR amplification in most laboratories.


Viral Culture

Suspected pertussis (whooping cough);
severe bronchiolitis in infants;
investigation of severe respiratory infection (including pneumonia), particularly if viral infection is suspected.


Diagnosis of whooping cough can be confirmed by isolation and identification of Bordetella pertussis from culture or detection by nucleic acid probe after amplification.

False negatives and false positives occur.

Recovery rate for culture is not high but is best in the first 2-3 weeks of the illness.

Whooping cough can also be diagnosed by the detection of specific IgA to B. pertussis in nasopharyngeal aspirate.

See also Virus detection, culture.


Carroll KC. J Clin Microbiol 2002; 40: 3115-3120.