Dry-shipped and mailed vaginal swabs collected at home have been used in research studies for the detection of C. trachomatis (CT), N. gonorrhoeae (GC), and Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) by nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) in screening programs. A verification study was performed to compare the limit of detection of CT, GC, and TV on swabs that were dry-shipped to paired swabs that were wet-shipped in transport media through the U.S. mail.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepared inocula in sterile water to mock simulated urogenital swabs with high to low concentrations of CT and GC. Replicate swabs were inoculated with 100µl of dilutions, were dry transported or placed into commercial transport media (“wet”) for mailing for NAAT testing. The University of Alabama prepared replicate concentrations of TV, which were similarly shipped and tested by NAAT.
All paired dry and wet swabs were detectable for CT. For GC, all paired dry and wet swabs were detectable for GC at concentrations ≥103. At 102 and 10 CFU/ml, the 10 replicate GC results were variably positive. For TV, wet and dry shipped concentrations > 102 TV/ml tested positive, while results at 10 TV/ml were negative for dry swabs. Holding replicate dry swabs at 55°C 5 days before testing did not affect results.
NAATs were able to detect CT, GC, and TV on dry transported swabs. Using NAATs for testing home-collected, urogenital swabs mailed in a dry state to a laboratory may be useful for outreach screening programs.