Mycobacteriology

The Mycobacteriology laboratory located at QEII Medical Centre in Nedlands functions as the State Reference facility for Mycobacteria and provides a comprehensive range of tests.

Specimens and isolates are received from all laboratories in Western Australia.

Services provided by the laboratory include direct microscopy for mycobacteria on specimens (including Mycobacterium leprae), direct nucleic acid detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and its resistance determinants on selected specimens, isolation and identification of mycobacteria, antimicrobial susceptibility testing of clinically relevant isolates and molecular epidemiology typing.

Microscopy for acid fast bacilli (AFB) is performed on a smear prepared from the specimen using either a Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN) or fluorochrome stain. Urgent ZN testing can be performed at laboratories located at QEII Medical Centre, Royal Perth Hospital and Fiona Stanley Hospital if required. We aim to provide microscopy results within one working day of receiving routine samples.

Specimens are cultured using a combination of automated broth and conventional solid culture media. Isolation of mycobacteria may take up to 12 weeks, with positive cultures being reported as soon as identified. Phenotypic drug susceptibility testing is routinely performed on all new M. tuberculosis isolates and usually takes 7-12 days. Susceptibility testing for non-tuberculous mycobacteria is available for clinically significant rapidly growing mycobacteria and M. avium complex.

Close collaboration with the Western Australian Tuberculosis Control Programme, Mycobacterium Reference Laboratories in other Australian states and New Zealand, and the PathWest Environmental Microbiology Unit is maintained.

Last Updated: 01/12/2021