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NC Department of Health and Human Services
State Laboratory of Public Health
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Microbiology Sample Test Results

 

Environmental Sciences: Environmental Microbiology

Sample Collection and Shipment

Note: Forms referenced below are available only with collection kits, which must be ordered from the State Lab.

All samples for coliform analysis must be collected in regulation, sterile bottles supplied by this Laboratory. Complete directions for collecting a proper sample are found on the back of the request form included with each sample kit. Directions must be followed closely to ensure that the sample is not contaminated during collection. Samples must reach this Laboratory and be processed within a maximum of 30 hours after collection. Samples arriving after 30 hours will be rejected as unsuitable for analysis. Each sample must be properly identified with a completed form. A minimum of 100 ml is required for drinking water samples submitted for testing of total coliforms (fill to or slightly above the line). For non-drinking water samples submitted for both fecal coliform and fecal streptococcus, the bottle should be filled to the neck.

Non-drinking water samples should be refrigerated during a maximum transport time of six hours. A special courier may be required to deliver the samples to this Laboratory. Arrangements for these analyses should be made with the Laboratory by telephone at least 24 hours in advance.

With the exception of the Sulfate Reducing/Sulfur Bacteria and Iron Bacteria tests, please call the Laboratory before submitting samples for the following tests:

  • Heterotrophic Plate Count
    This procedure enumerates nearly all of the bacteria present in a water sample. A routine bacteriological bottle and DHHS form #1704 should be submitted with each sample. Results will be reported as the number of colony forming units (CFUs) per milliliter of sample.
  • Pseudomonas
    This analysis confirms the presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. An opportunistic pathogen, this organism has been associated with eye, ear, nose, throat, skin, and urinary and intestinal tract infections. A routine bacteriological bottle and DHHS form #1704 should be used to submit a sample for this analysis. Results will be reported as the number of Pseudomonas organisms present in 100 milliliters of sample.
  • Fecal Streptococcus
    The Fecal Streptococcus analysis is usually done in conjunction with the Fecal Coliform analysis to determine the relative sanitary quality of non-potable waters. A routine bacteriological bottle and DHHS form #1704 should be submitted with each sample. Results will be reported as the number of Fecal Coliform and the number of Fecal Streptococcus organisms per 100 milliliters of sample.
  • Enterococcus
    The enterococcus group is a subgroup of the fecal streptocci group and detects enterococci in fresh and marine waters. Enterococci is considered a valuable bacterial indicator for determining the extent of fecal contamination of recreational surface waters. Results will be reported as the number of enterococci per 100 ml of sample.
  • Sulfate Reducing and Sulfur Bacteria
    The presence of Sulfate Reducing and/or Sulfur Bacteria in a water source may cause taste, odor, and pipe corrosion problems. These bacteria are considered "nuisance organisms" and are not pathogenic. An inorganic chemical analysis container and DHHS form #1704 should be used to submit a sample for these analyses. Both tests can be performed using the same sample.   Results will be reported one calendar month from initiation of sample analysis. Results are reported as either Positive or Negative for each of these bacteria.
  • Microscopics
    The following tests are available for Microscopic Exam:
    • Iron Bacteria
      Iron Bacteria may produce taste, odor, and pipe corrosion problems. When submitting samples for Iron Bacteria testing, please use DHHS form #1704 and an inorganic chemical analysis container. Iron Bacteria and Sulfate Reducing/Sulfur Bacteria tests can be performed using the same sample. Results for Iron Bacteria examinations will be reported as Positive or Negative for Iron Bacteria. If there is no visible sediment or particulate matter or reddish tinge in the water, it is unlikely that Iron Bacteria are present.
    • Algae
      A sample for Algae examination should be submitted in an inorganic chemical analysis container and DHHS form #1704 should accompany the sample. Samples for Algae examinations must be received within 24 hours of collection and should be iced during transit. If Algae are found in the sample, results will include the types and genus names of the Algae present.
    • Fungi and Miscellaneous Materials
      Microscopic examinations will be made to identify the material or organism. Samples should be transported to the Laboratory as soon as possible after collection using the same form and bottle used for other microscopics.
    • Giardia
      As a pre-requisite for this test, a patient must be diagnosed by a physician with Giardia from a stool sample. This Unit does not examine water samples for Giardia. Water samples submitted for Giardia will be analyzed for Fecal Coliform organisms. If the Fecal Coliform tests are Negative, the presence of Giardia is unlikely. If the Fecal Coliform tests are Positive, this information will be forwarded to the (Clinical) Microbiology Branch. Special arrangements must be made before sending samples to the Microbiology Branch for Giardia testing. Crytospordium analysis is not available at this time.

Environmental Sciences Information


 

NCDHHS

Updated: November 17, 2017