Fungal cultures are a test to try and ascertain the type of fungal organism that is responsible for an infection or even the presence of the organism in the first place. Fungi are one of the five classes of pathogens that cause disease; the other being viruses, bacteria, prions, and helminths. It is very important that the correct organism is identified during an infection because the drug treatments differ according to the type of organism and one treatment would not work for the other. A fungus culture is usually acquired from wound exudates and swabs of areas that are within the body like the mouth and vagina. Very rarely can fungi cause infections within the body because the human immune system is more than adept at eliminating fungi. However, sometimes, a fungal blood culture might need to be done because of a condition called fungal sepsis. Sepsis is the presence of bacteria or an infection in the blood. This is a very rare condition and a medical emergency as well. The fungal culture test that is performed in this condition will usually turn up the candida fungus as the causative organism, though the list is quite endless.
A fungal culture is taken from a part of the body in secretions or by taking a blood sample. Most infections with fungi are limited to the skin, oral mucosa, or the genitals. Very rarely does fungal sepsis actually occur unless a patient is severely immune-compromised. This is usually the case in patients with AIDS or with diabetes. Both of these diseases will cause the immune system to stop working altogether giving rise to all sorts of opportunistic infections.
A fungal growth is acquired by analyzing the secretions and exudates from a wound or by swabbing a surface that is infected. A blood sample might also be required for checking for the presence of fungi in the blood. The sample is then cultured in a fungus-friendly environment for up to a week or more before the fungal colonies become visible.
There is no preparation that is required for this test. At the most, you would have to prepare for a blood sample being taken from your arm. If a fungal infection is confirmed then the medication that is used includes drugs like clotrimazole, meteronidazole, or ketoconazole. This might have to be administered intravenously in severe cases.