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A blood culture is a test on a sample of blood to check for bacteria, a fungus, or sometimes viruses in the bloodstream. The test may be done if a doctor suspects a blood infection. A blood culture may help determine the specific organism causing an infection and select the appropriate antibiotic to treat it.
Usually a blood culture is needed only if a person is severely ill. Blood cultures are commonly done when a person has a high fever or shaking chills that mean there may be an infection of the blood.
It usually takes between 1 and 3 days to get the results of a blood culture. But a blood culture to look for a fungus or virus can take weeks.
Last Revised: August 6, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology
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