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A sputum sample is the name given to the mucus that is coughed up from the
lungs. In is usually used for microbiological investigations of respiratory
The best sputum samples contain very little saliva, as this contaminates the
sample with oral bacteria.
When a sputum specimen is plated out, it is best to get the portion of the
sample that most looks like pus onto the swab. If there is any blood in the
sputum, this should also be on the swab.
Microbiological sputum samples are usually used to look for infections by
Branhamella catarrhalis, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus
influenzae. Other pathogens can also be found.