What is the role of blood cultures in the workup of pertussis (whooping cough)?

Updated: May 02, 2019
  • Author: Joseph J Bocka, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Answer

The results of blood culture are uniformly negative because B pertussis grows solely in the respiratory epithelium. The culture specimen should be obtained by using deep nasopharyngeal aspiration or by holding a flexible swab (Dacron or calcium alginate) in the patient's posterior nasopharynx for 15-30 seconds or until a cough is produced.

The sample special media (preferred media include Regan-Lowe or Bordet-Gengou agar and modified Stainer-Scholte media) should be promptly inoculated. B pertussis usually grows after 3-4 days; however, culture findings cannot be considered negative for pertussis until after 10 days.


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