Evaluation of swab transport systems against a published standard

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Before the publication of the M40-A standard by the United States National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards (NCCLS), no quality control data for swab transport systems (STSs) had been available.


To compare three commercially available STSs against the published standard to ascertain bacterial survival after a set holding time.


Charcoal and non-charcoal containing swabs were inoculated with standard volumes and numbers of a range of bacteria commonly isolated from clinical material. Bacterial counts were taken at time zero, six, 24, and 48 hours, with the results being compared against the NCCLS standard.


The standard clearly differentiated between the three STSs tested, with one product being superior to the other two products in providing better survival.


The standard now provides manufacturers and users of STSs with meaningful data to provide, purchase, and compare an STS for routine clinical use.

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