Identification of isolates

Most common bacteria, fungi, and mycobacteria are identified by their ability to grow on cell-free media, colonial morphology on solid media, rate of growth, temperature requirements, stained microscopic morphology, and a variety of tests to differentiate biochemical or antigenic properties. Atypical isolates, unusual organisms, and differentiation of phage types or serotypes of an organism are generally referred to a reference laboratory for investigation. Identification of epidemic strains can be achieved by many molecular methods such as digested DNA fragment fingerprinting, plasmid profiles, and multilocus enzyme electrophoresis.

Growth of viruses and Chlamydia can be detected in cell cultures by cytopathic effects such as cell rounding, cell clustering, syncytial formation, and intranuclear or intracytoplasmic inclusions. Hemadsorption, direct immunofluorescence, and interference can also indicate viral growth. Final identification of a virus requires specific neutralization of viral activity by homologous antiserum.

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