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Diphtheria Culture



Bacterial culture for the isolation and identification of Corynebacterium diphtheriae & Corynebacterium ulcerans.


Diagnosis of / investigation for Diptheria / Cutaneous Diptheria


Throat & Wound Swab

Specimen container

Charcoal transwab

How To Request On EPIC

For electronic requesting using EPIC (RDUH ONLY):

Please see instructions for Throat Swab Culture & Wound Swab Culture

Special Instructions

Consult Microbiologist immediately if suspected clinically. Do not remove membrane if present – there is a danger of asphyxiation. Diphtheria is a vaccine preventable disease and is now exceedingly rare in England & Wales (<10 cases per year). All recent cases have been associated with foreign travel, or contact with an overseas person, or laboratory-acquired.

Send wound swab if “tropical” travel associated skin ulceration, and write travel details on request.


Processed locally in Microbiology at RDUH

Any isolates will be sent the Respiratory and Vaccine Preventable Bacteria Reference Unit (RVPBRU), UKHSA Colindale, London for confirmation and toxigenicity testing.

Processing Time

24-72 Hours (for initial culture)

Urgent Specimen Instructions

Contact Microbiology if this is suspected

Useful Links

For Patients:

Diphtheria – NHS

For Healthcare Professionals:

Diphtheria – Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice

Diphtheria vaccine | Treatment summaries | BNF | NICE

Diphtheria: the green book, chapter 15 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Diphtheria: guidance, data and analysis – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

SMI – ID 2 – Identification of Corynebacterium species (rcpath.org)

Specimen Labelling Procedure
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