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Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 Jun;10(6):1023-9.

Swab materials and Bacillus anthracis spore recovery from nonporous surfaces.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA. lrose@cdc.gov


Four swab materials were evaluated for their efficiency in recovery of Bacillus anthracis spores from steel coupons. Cotton, macrofoam, polyester, and rayon swabs were used to sample coupons inoculated with a spore suspension of known concentration. Three methods of processing for the removal of spores from the swabs (vortexing, sonication, or minimal agitation) and two swab preparations (premoistened and dry) were evaluated. Results indicated that premoistened swabs were more efficient at recovering spores than dry swabs (14.3% vs. 4.4%). Vortexing swabs for 2 min during processing resulted in superior extraction of spores when compared to sonicating them for 12 min or subjecting them to minimal agitation. Premoistened macrofoam and cotton swabs that were vortexed during processing recovered the greatest proportions of spores with a mean recovery of 43.6% (standard deviation [SD] 11.1%) and 41.7% (SD 14.6%), respectively. Premoistened and vortexed polyester and rayon swabs were less efficient, at 9.9% (SD 3.8%) and 11.5% (SD 7.9%), respectively.

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