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Blood Culture: About Your Child's Test

What is it?

A blood culture is done to check if bacteria or fungi are infecting your child's blood.

Why is this test done?

A blood culture is done to:

  • Find a bacterial infection that has spread into the blood. These include meningitis and osteomyelitis. They also include pneumonia, kidney infections, and sepsis.
  • Find a fungal infection in the blood. One common type is a yeast infection.
  • Check for endocarditis. This is a bacterial infection on the heart valves.
  • Find the best medicines to kill the bacteria or fungi.
  • Find the cause of an unexplained fever, shock, or other very serious illness.

How can you prepare for the test?

  • You don't need to do anything at home to prepare for the test.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse if your child took antibiotics recently.

How is the test done?

  • A health professional takes a sample of your child's blood.
  • Blood cultures are taken in special bottles using a needle to draw blood from two seperate veins (usually one from each arm).
  • If bacteria or yeast are found in the culture, your doctor may ask the lab to retest the blood several days later.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.

Where can you learn more?

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