Microbiology

The microbiology department looks for bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause infection in the body. Not only is an infection diagnosed we also find out how the infection can be treated.

We receive a number of samples including:

  • sputums (to check for respiratory infection)
  • urines (to check for urinary tract infection)
  • faeces (to check for food poisoning)
  • blood (to check for bacteraemia)
  • cerebral spinal fluid (to check for meningitis)
  • swabs (to check for an infection from anywhere)

What happens to your sample?

On receipt into the laboratory the details are checked to make sure form and specimen have the correct information on them. The details are then booked into the computer system.

For samples where bacteria are grown a selection of media plates are selected and the sample placed on. The plates are then placed in incubators to allow the bacteria to grow.

After 16 hours of incubation a biomedical scientist checks the media plates for any growth of bacteria and also decides if it is capable of causing infection (remember we carry good bacteria as well). The bacteria are then fully identified and tested to find out which antibiotics will eradicate them.

For some infections, for example chlamydia, we use molecular techniques to identify them. This is performed by extracting the DNA and then identifying it.

The results are sent by a computer link to requesting doctor where the result is acted on. If any medical staff need advice a consultant microbiologist is available 24 hours per day.