BACKGROUND: Microbial screening is required for all cord blood units (CBUs). Four gram-positive contaminants were documented to survive cryopreservation poorly and isolation of other contaminants were reported.
METHODS: Forty-eight contaminated CBUs detected with either Staphylococcus epidermidis, Corynebacterium species, Peptostreptococcus or Streptococcus species before cryopreservation were used in this study. CBUs were processed, DMSO-infused and microbial screened before cryopreservation. Post-thaw microbial screening was achieved using 1 and 10 ml inoculants in BACTEC culture bottles. Positive bottles were subjected for microbial identification and results were compared with those from pre-freeze.
RESULTS: A higher rate of microbial contamination was found using the 10 ml inoculant. Screening of 11 CBUs did not detect any contaminants while 30 CBUs screened detected more than one unknown contaminants and majority of contaminants were identified to be gram-negative species.
CONCLUSION: A higher inoculation volume used at post-thaw for microbial screening improves contamination detection but leads to the loss of precious cord blood. Some contaminants did not survive cryopreservation or were not identified due to their low microbial levels. Contrasting contaminants found at post-thaw suggest the improvements made in detection and identification of contaminants over the years.
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