Intracellular and Extracellular Bacteria

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Body Fluid Differential Tutorial. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Intracellular and Extracellular Bacteria

This is a CSF sample from a patient diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Intracellular and extracellular bacteria are indicated by the arrows.
Notice the WBC clumps around the bacteria. This is not an artifact of the preparation but rather a response to the presence of bacteria. WBC clumping can be a great clue to the presence of bacteria. Always scan WBC clumps for the presence of infectious organisms.