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Rapid identification of Staphylococcus aureus from BacT/ALERT blood culture bottles by direct Gram stain characteristics
  1. D R Murdoch1,2,
  2. R L Greenlees1
  1. 1Microbiology Unit, Canterbury Health Laboratories, Christchurch 8001, New Zealand
  2. 2Department of Pathology, Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Christchurch 8001, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor D R Murdoch
 Microbiology Unit, Canterbury Health Laboratories, PO Box 151, Christchurch 8001, New Zealand;


The rapid identification of Staphylococcus aureus from positive blood cultures provides important clinical and therapeutic information. Using criteria based on direct Gram stain characteristics, an experienced microscopist was able to distinguish S aureus from other staphylococci isolated from BacT/ALERT blood culture bottles with an overall sensitivity of 89% and specificity of 98%. Furthermore, this method was readily taught to a clinical microbiologist who had not previously used the method first hand. Laboratories using the BacT/ALERT blood culture system should become familiar with these criteria so that S aureus bacteraemia can be identified rapidly.

  • blood culture
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Gram stain

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