• Self-collected nasal swabs to detect infection and colonization: a useful tool for population-based epidemiological studies?

      Akmatov, M K; Pessler, F; Helmholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2011-09)
      Population-based epidemiological studies on infectious diseases are limited by methodological problems that may not be encountered in other fields of epidemiology. The acute or asymptomatic nature of many infections hinders a timely diagnosis by trained personnel in a study centre, indicating the need for new collection methods of biological specimens. One alternative approach is to have the participants collect the specimens themselves, for instance nasal swabs for the detection of bacterial or viral pathogens. Although self-collection is widely accepted in clinical studies of specific populations (e.g., self-collection of vaginal swabs by young women to diagnose sexually transmitted infections), it has not been employed much in population-based studies. Here, we review recent experience with self-collection of nasal swabs for the detection of microorganisms and discuss future prospects and applications for this technique.