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What Is a Throat Swab Culture?
A throat swab culture, or throat culture, is a test commonly used to diagnose bacterial infections in the throat. These infections can include strep throat, pneumonia, tonsillitis, whooping cough, and meningitis.
The purpose of a throat swab culture is to detect the presence of organisms in the throat that could cause infection. For example, the presence of group A streptococcus bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes) in your throat is a key sign that you may have strep throat.
Streptococcal bacteria are very contagious. They can be spread through airborne droplets. An infected person can easily pass the bacteria on if they cough, sneeze, or share food or drinks.
The bacteria can also be picked up from doorknobs or other surfaces and transferred to your nose, mouth, or eyes.
If you have a sore throat and your doctor suspects that you may have strep throat or another bacterial infection, they may order a throat swab culture. The results of the test will help you and your doctor form a diagnosis and a treatment plan.