A comparison of flocked nylon swabs and non-flocked rayon swabs for detection of respiratory bacteria in nasopharyngeal carriage in Australian Indigenous children

Christine Wigger, Peter Stanley Morris, Matthew Stevens, Heidi Smith-Vaughan, Kim Hare, Jemima Beissbarth, Amanda Jane Leach

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    This study compared flocked (nylon) swabs and (non-flocked) rayon swabs for the detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis in nasopharyngeal samples from 20 enrolled Indigenous children under the age of 6 years living in remote Australian Aboriginal communities, and determined which swab the child or parent perceived to be more comfortable. There was no evidence of a significant difference between flocked and rayon swabs in the recovery of common respiratory bacteria. Rayon swabs detected presence of S. pneumoniae (90% cf. 74%, p = 0.375), H. influenzae (79% cf. 74%, p = 1.00) and M. catarrhalis (79% cf. 74%, p = 1.00) at higher rates than the flocked swabs. Analysis of semi-quantitative growth scores also showed no significant differences in either the ranked distributions or medians. Rayon swabs median semi-quantitative growth scores were higher for S. pneumoniae (4 [IQR 1–5] cf. 3 [IQR 0–6], p = 0.699), and H. influenzae (2 [IQR1–5] cf. 1 [IQR0–5], p = 0.946). Sixty percent of participants preferred samples to be taken with flocked swabs. This study demonstrates that microbiological outcomes are not compromised when using flocked or rayon swabs in respiratory bacterial carriage studies in this population. Therefore, cost, methodological consistency across studies, and participant preference can be considered when choosing swab type.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-49
    Number of pages3
    JournalJournal of Microbiological Methods
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


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