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Chlamydia Pneumoniae (Swab)

Does this test have other names?

Chlamydophila pneumoniae (C. pneumoniae) (swab), throat culture, pneumonia testing

What is this test?

If your healthcare provider suspects you have C. pneumoniae, he or she may do a swab test of your nose or throat to test for it. C. pneumoniae is just one of many types of bacteria that can cause pneumonia. 

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test because when you have a bacterial pneumonia such as C. pneumoniae, it can be potentially life-threatening if not treated. Symptoms may look like a common cold at first. You may have chest congestion, runny nose, and sore throat. But these symptoms can get worse over time. If the infection isn't treated, you may even end up in the hospital. The C. pneumoniae bacteria can't be found by looking through a microscope, so your healthcare provider needs a culture to find out exactly which bacteria you have. This means lab technicians grow and identify the specific bacteria from your sample so your provider can prescribe the right treatment.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Blood tests are sometimes used to identify C. pneumoniae. If your healthcare provider isn't sure of the cause of your infection, you may be tested for other bacteria, too. 

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you. 

The best result of a culture is to find no trace of bacteria. If the culture grows bacteria, then technicians can figure out which types of bacteria are there. The best treatment can then be prescribed. 

How is this test done?

Your healthcare provider rubs a cotton swab in the back of your throat or nose to collect a sample for culture. The swab is taken to the lab, where the culture is grown to find out what germ is causing your illness.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test poses no known risks. 

What might affect my test results?

Other bacteria or germs found in your mouth and throat can cause problems in getting an accurate culture from a throat swab. Although it doesn't affect test results, the other drawback to getting a culture from a throat swab is that it often takes 1 to 3 weeks to get the results. For this reason, other tests, including blood tests, are often done to check for the cause of pneumonia. This way treatment can be started more quickly. But a blood test is not as accurate as growing a culture.

How do I get ready for this test?

No preparation is needed for the test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use. 

Medical Reviewers:

  • Haldeman-Englert, Chad, MD
  • Sather, Rita, RN