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General bacteriology

The Microbiology Department is divided into a number of sections.

Level 7 of the John Radcliffe is home to:

  • autoclaving
  • microbiology specimen reception
  • antibiotic susceptibility testing / bacterial identification (AST/ID)
  • specialised bacteriology
  • general bacteriology
  • the containment level 3 laboratory.

Viral serology and the molecular laboratory are situated on Level 6, although the immunoanalysers used by viral serology are part of the Core Automated Laboratory on Level 4.

The majority of samples processed in this section are from GPs and outpatient clinics.

The section comprises seven areas, each dealing with a different microbiological investigation.

Surface cultures: bacterial and fungal investigation of swabs from superficial and non-surgical sites, for the diagnosis of infection.

Genital cultures: bacteriological, fungal and parasitic investigation of male and female genital specimens for the diagnosis of genital and sexually transmitted infection.

MRSA and CPE screening: carried out to identify colonised with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) and Acinetobacter spp, which are commonly resistant to many antibiotics.

Urine culture: performed in order to check for the presence of microorganisms in urine samples.

Enteric culture: isolation and correct identification of faecal bacteria, viruses and parasites is an important aid in the diagnosis and management of infected patients.

Clostridium difficile testing: carried out to identify patients with active C. difficile infection.

Dermatophyte culture: direct microscopy for fungal hyphae and culture on specific media, to enable identification of dermatophytes to species level.

This section of the laboratory is leading the way in Oxford with the introduction of the BD Kiestraâ„¢ work cell automation to process urine samples and MRSA screens received by the laboratory; from inoculation of culture media right through to plate reading.

It allows the bulk of culture negative reports to be sent with very little hands-on time, leaving the Biomedical Scientists more time to focus on the culture positive samples.