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What does it mean if bacteria is found in a urinalysis test?

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Quick Answer

The presence of bacteria in the urine indicates an infection of the urinary tract, bladder or kidneys, according to Summit Medical Group. Urine is typically sterile in healthy individuals; the presence of bacteria is a sign of infection whether the patient has symptoms or not. Because a woman's urethra is shorter than a man's, women are more susceptible to this type of infection than men.

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According to WebMD, a urinalysis test typically takes one to three days to complete, as the bacteria must be grown in a laboratory setting to be identified for treatment. A count of 100,000 bacteria or more per milliliter of urine is considered an infection, while a count lower than that is generally considered to be contaminated due to a poor collection sample. In this case, an additional sample may be required. A count of 100 or fewer bacteria per milliliter is considered to be uninfected and does not require treatment. This level of bacteria is also commonly present when a patient is already taking antibiotics to treat an infection.

In some cases, a patient may be asymptomatic, but still have a level of bacteria in the urine that indicates infection, according to Summit Medical Group. In this case, treatment is not necessary unless the patient is pregnant, needs a kidney transplant or has another serious medical condition.

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