Gram stain

You may overhear discussions mentioning, or read of, "Gram-negative" or "Gram-positive" bacteria. The Gram stain (named for Dr. Gram) is a series of chemical treatments applied to a slide containing dried bacteria. Viewed under the microscope, the germs are stained either a dark blue color ("Gram-positive") or a red color ("Gram-negative"). The characteristic colors, in addition to the appearances and shapes of the bacteria, help in rapid initial (tentative) identification of the bacteria causing an infection. Of course, final identification has to wait for culture tests, which take one or more days.

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