Ideally, specimens should be transported to the laboratory within 2 horns of collection. All specimen containers should be leak-proof, and the specimens should be transported within sealable, leak-proof, plastic bags with a separate section for paperwork; resealable bags or bags with a permanent seal are common for this purpose. Bags should be marked with a biohazard label (Figure 5-1). Many microorganisms are susceptible to environmental conditions such as the presence of oxygen (anaerobic bacteria), changes in temperature (Neisseria meningitidis), or changes in pH (Shigella). Thus, use of special preservatives or holding media for transportation of specimens delayed for more than 2 hours is important to ensure organism viability (survival).
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