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Types and Collection of Specimens

There are many options for laboratory testing. Stool is the preferred specimen for almost all infectious foodborne agents, however there may be some situations where other types of specimens must be collected.

Causative AgentSpecimen Type
Most infectious foodborne agents Stool
Bacteria that cause invasive disease (bacteremia) Blood
Preformed toxins Vomitus, stool, suspected food

It is important to always contact the laboratory that will be conducting the tests before collecting any specimens. Laboratory investigators will help determine likely causative agents and what types of specimens should be collected. Laboratory protocol varies between states, so make sure you are familiar with your state’s protocol before an outbreak occurs. 

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