The isolation rates of H. influenzae and pneumococci from fresh specimens of sputum are compared with those from samples sent to the laboratory by post. The rate for both organisms from postal specimens is found to be approximately one half of that from fresh ones. The finding that postal specimens tend to be more acid than fresh ones does not seem to bear significantly on the survival of organisms.
The examination of three fresh specimens from each patient, instead of a single sample, increases the isolation rate of H. influenzae from 40% to 70% in patients with pus in the sputum. The rate for pneumococci is increased from 32% to 41%. The corresponding increases in mucoid sputum are from 15% to 23% for H. influenzae and from 15% to 34% for pneumococci.
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