Previously QBC Diagnostics and the Drucker Company

Detect positive AFB (Tuberculosis) sputum samples in as little as three minutes with Drucker Diagnostics' complete F.A.S.T. AFB Kits. Multiple kit configurations are available to suit the requirements of any laboratory.

Part Number : qbc-fast-afb-smear-kits


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Interested in learning more about F.A.S.T. AFB Kits? The following is an archive of currently available documents concerning F.A.S.T. AFB Kits:


A full-color brochure describing the many features and benefits of Fluorescence and Staining Technology.

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Product Description List

A list of all configurations and accessories currently available for the F.A.S.T. AFB Kits, including part numbers.


Specification Sheet

A document containing all specifications of the F.A.S.T. AFB Kits.


F.A.S.T. AFB Kits User Guide: Slide Preparation

This user guide provides an overview of the F.A.S.T. AFB Kits for Acid-Fast Bacilli (AFB) detection as it pertains to slide preparation.


F.A.S.T. AFB Kits User Guide: Fluorescent Staining Procedures

This user guide provides an overview of the F.A.S.T. AFB Kits for Acid-Fast Bacilli (AFB) detection as it pertains to fluorescent staining procedures.


F.A.S.T. AFB Kits User Guide: Troubleshooting

This user guide provides an overview of the F.A.S.T. AFB Kits for Acid-Fast Bacilli (AFB) detection as it pertains to troubleshooting.


F.A.S.T. AFB Kits User Guide: SureFocus Microscope Slide

This user guide provides an overview of the F.A.S.T. AFB Kits for Acid-Fast Bacilli (AFB) detection as it pertains to the SureFocus Microscope Slide.


Application Notes

Reviewing TB Slides Prepared With F.A.S.T. AFB Kits

This note demonstrates how the QBC ParaLens Advance Microscope Attachment and the QBC F.A.S.T. AFB Kits can work together to help TB programs meet WHO and Stop TB Partnership goals.

Scientific Study

Walter Kuhn, Derek Armstrong, Suzanne Atteberry, Euline Dewbrey, Diane Smith and Nancy Hooper (2010) Usefulness of the Paralens™ Fluorescent Microscope Adaptor for the Identification of Mycobacteria in Both Field and Laboratory Settings.

Identification of Mycobacteria   Identification of Mycobacteria

Product Inserts

F.A.S.T. Stain Kit

The complete product insert for the F.A.S.T. Stain Kit.

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F.A.S.T. AFB Smear Kit

The complete product insert for the F.A.S.T. AFB Smear Kit.

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F.A.S.T. AFB Smear Kit with Digestion Solution

The complete product insert for the F.A.S.T. AFB Smear Kit with Digestion Solution.

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AW4277-400-085(G) F.A.S.T. AFB Smear Kit InsertF.A.S.T. E-Z Smear Kit

The complete product insert for the F.A.S.T. E-Z Smear Kit.

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F.A.S.T. Sample Kit

The complete product insert for the F.A.S.T. Sample Kit.

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AW4277-400-042(G) F.A.S.T. AFB Control Slide InsertF.A.S.T. Control Slides

The complete product insert for the F.A.S.T. Control Slides.

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F.A.S.T. Digestion Solution

The complete product insert for the F.A.S.T. Digestion Solution.

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AW4277-400-128(F) F.A.ST. SureFocus Microscope Slide InsertF.A.S.T. SureFocus Microscope Slides

The complete product insert for the F.A.S.T. SureFocus Microscope Slides.

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External Recommendations for Auramine Staining

WHOWorld Health Organization

In this official policy statement, the World Health Organization recommends the use of LED fluorescence microscopy using an Auramine stain for the detection of tuberculosis. For a detailed analysis of this recommendation, consult our ParaWorld Frequently Asked Questions on the subject.


Association of Public Health Laboratories

On Page 3 of these guidelines for Public Health Laboratories, the Association of Public Health Laboratories recommends the use of fluorescent stain (such as F.A.S.T. stain) as the primary staining method for TB detection.

The World Health Organization has recommended the use of LED fluorescence microscopy for the detection of Tuberculosis Acid Fast Bacilli (AFB) because of its improvements in speed and sensitivity over Ziehl-Neelsen stains. QBC F.A.S.T. (Fluorescence and Staining Technologies) AFB Kits were developed to meet this recommendation, with a host of revolutionary advances such as:

  • 3-Minute F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain prepares samples in a fraction of the time of conventional stains
  • Patent Pending SureFocus Microscope Slide simplifies focusing and standardizes review to meet World Health Organization requirements
  • Total System Approach eases the burden for users, as Drucker Diagnostics can provide all of the supplies needed for review


F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain

Auramine O-based staining for AFB detection has been used for decades and is a mainstay for TB fluorescence microscopy.

When stained with Auramine O, AFB fluoresce brightly against a dark background, allowing microscopists to easily identify them using lower magnification and with less eye strain than bright field methods, such as Ziehl-Neelsen staining.

F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain Kits further improve this technology with reagents that provide improved results in significantly less time. F.A.S.T. reagents take approximately 3 minutes to stain, versus 20 minutes for conventional stains, thus increasing lab throughput.


SureFocus Microscope Slide

QBC F.A.S.T. AFB Kits Overview

This video provides a brief overview of the QBC F.A.S.T. AFB Kits.

SureFocus Microscope Slides are printed with a fluorescent smear guide that is visible under the same wavelengths that excite Auramine O stain. This makes the guide completely visible during review, allowing users to keep samples in focus even on negative samples, which otherwise would appear completely dark.

The SureFocus smear guide has also been sized specifically to standardize review. By using fluorescent milestones to follow a suggested review path, users can be confident they are meeting WHO standards for slide grading without having to count individual fields. This allows users to keep their focus on detecting AFB, with minimal distractions.


Complete AFB Detection Systems

F.A.S.T. AFB systems were developed to meet the diverse and unique needs of TB labs globally. They are available in several formats and contain all of the components necessary for AFB review, from collection to microscopy.

Included in all F.A.S.T. AFB kits are the F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain Kit, SureFocus Microscope Slides, and acid fast control slides (an important tool for ensuring quality results), along with all necessary collection and processing supplies. Kits are also available with digestion solution for labs that perform additional testing, such as culture.

For labs building fluorescence microscopy capacity or making the switch from bright field microscopy, full instrument and disposables packages are available, which include the QBC ParaLens Advance or the QBC Horizon Model 755VES centrifuge.

QBC Fluorescence and Staining Technologies (F.A.S.T.) AFB Kits are unique systems of reagents, supplies, and instruments that couple time-proven fluorescence technology with unique innovations that provide significant advantages over conventional methods. At the heart of these systems is F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain, which produces brightly fluorescing acid fast bacilli for review in just 3 minutes.

Conventional bright field TB microscopy techniques use aniline dyes to stain acid fast bacteria (AFB), such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These staining methods take advantage of the organisms' mycolic acid laden cell wall, which is difficult to penetrate with common staining reagents. Aniline dyes such as carbol fuchsin can penetrate these waxy cell walls with the help of heat or high dye concentration. Because this stain cannot be removed by acid alcohol solvent, the organisms are considered to be "acid fast."

TB fluorescence microscopy (FM) techniques have been used for decades in larger lab settings and are proven to provide significant advantages, such as higher sensitivity and faster examination times, over bright field microscopy. The fluorescence staining techniques employed for FM make use of the fluorochrome Auramine O and also take advantage of the acid-fastness of TB and other AFB. In contrast to carbol fuchsin, however, Auramine O penetrates the waxy cell wall and binds to the organism's DNA by intercalating between the base pairs. After decolorization, non-specific fluorescence is quenched through the use of a reagent, such as potassium permanganate.

With conventional Auramine O protocols, the staining, decolorization, and quenching process takes approximately 20 minutes. F.A.S.T. AFB Kits uses a proprietary Auramine O stain and a decolorizer/quenching agent to make a rapid two-step process that takes just 3 minutes to complete. The F.A.S.T. staining procedure is simply:

  • Cover smear with F.A.S.T.Auramine O stain, let stand 1 minute, and rinse with water

  • Cover smear with F.A.S.T.Decolorizer/Quencher, let stand 1 minute, and rinse with water

Once the slide dries, the sample is ready for microscopic examination.

Like Auramine O used in conventional protocols, F.A.S.T. Auramine O stain is excited by blue light with a peak absorption around 430 nm and fluoresces in the green light spectrum. The QBC ParaLens Advance, an important tool in the F.A.S.T. product line, is uniquely formatted for performing fluorescence microscopy on Auramine O stained AFB samples. For an explanation on how the ParaLens Advance works, click here.


Can I use F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain for specimens other than sputum?
Yes. F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain works well for cerebrospinal fluid, bronchial lavage, and tissue sections as well as sputum.

Will F.A.S.T Auramine O Stain work for mycobacteria other than M. tuberculosis?
Yes. F.A.S.T.  Auramine O Stain will stain both "slow" and "rapid" growing AFB like M. tuberculosis, M. gordonae, M. kansasii, M. avium, M. abscessus, and M. chelonae.

Can I stain slides with Ziehl-Neelsen stains after they have been stained with F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain?
Yes. However, as with slides prestained with conventional Auramine O based stains, restaining slides for bright field microscopy could result in a decrease in sensitivity.

How long can I wait before I have to examine a sputum smear stained with F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain?
Slides should be examined as soon as possible. We have examined slides for several hours after staining but the sensitivity has not been tested for non-standard lab protocols.

What is the shelf life of F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain?
F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain has a shelf-life of 24 months from the date of manufacturing when stored within the labeled temperature limits.

What are the storage requirements for F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain?
F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain should be stored at 2°C to 25°C.

Is F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain comparable to standard Auramine O stain?
Yes. F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain results in stained bacilli that are as clear and bright as conventional Auramine O stains.

How long should I digest samples with F.A.S.T. Sputum Digestion Solution?
Samples should be digested for 15 minutes at room temperature. Care should be taken to ensure that the sample is not digested for excess time.

How long is F.A.S.T. Sputum Digestion Solution good for once it is activated?
F.A.S.T. Sputum Digestion Solution can be used for 24 hours after it is activated. The digestion reagent, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, is oxidized over time once it is in solution.

Will F.A.S.T. AFB Quality Control Slides work with other stains?
Yes. We have tested F.A.S.T. AFB Quality Control Slides with conventional Auramine O and Ziehl-Neelsen stains.

What are the organisms on F.A.S.T. AFB Quality Control Slides?
The F.A.S.T. AFB Quality Control Slide positive control well contains an inactivated, heat fixed smear of M. tuberculosis. The negative control well contains an inactivated, heat fixed smear of E. coli.


Can I buy F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain in dry format?
No. F.A.S.T. Auramine O Stain is not available in a dry format. However, the unique formula does not contain alcohol, so the hazards associated with shipping are significantly reduced compared to other acid fast stains.

Can I buy the components of F.A.S.T. AFB Kits individually?
Yes. Please contact the distributor responsible for your service area for details on pricing. Distributor contacts by location can be found here.

Can I obtain a sample of F.A.S.T. AFB Kits?
Yes. Please send an e-mail to and include "Free F.A.S.T. AFB Kits Sample" in the subject line. Include your shipping information in the body of the email. If you would also like to sample F.A.S.T. Sputum Digestion Solution, please indicate this in the e-mail as well.

A recent study, led by The World Health Organization, models the advantages seen when utilizing fluorescence microscopy and Auramine O staining techniques. According to the study, a 10 minute microscopy time is required for negative ZN smears, however, only 2.5 minutes is required for negative AO smears for maximum sensitivity. Utilizing Auramine O, F.A.S.T. AFB Kits reduce required negative sample microscopy time by up to 75%.

"The combination of adopting the new WHO recommendations on smear microscopy and introducing fluorescence microscopy can be expected to considerably reduce workload and almost double smear-positive case detection. Furthermore, this increase in case detection would be achieved with the existing human resources available and minimal additional equipment."

"The new LED-based FM systems come as complete microscopes or as adaptors for existing light microscopes" (please refer to the QBC ParaLens Advance). "The diodes have long life-spans and low energy requirements. They are simple to use, do not generate much heat, do not emit UV light, and do not need a dark-room. A number of large-scale trials and demonstration studies of LED-FM systems have recently been completed and results are awaited."

Click here (PDF) to read more.

For all service inquiries, please contact the Drucker Diagnostics Technical Service Department at +1-866-265-1486 (U.S. only) or Our Technical Support Representatives are available Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (EST).

Otherwise, contact your nearest Drucker Diagnostics office for assistance. To locate a service center near you, please click here.

The following videos were designed to walk users through AFB detection using F.A.S.T. AFB Kits.

Preparing a Direct Smear for AFB Microscopy Staining Slides for AFB Detection  Viewing Surefocus Slides
Preparing a Direct Smear for AFB Staining Slides for AFB Detection Viewing SureFocus Slides
This video will demonstrate how to prepare a direct smear for AFB detection. This video will show how to stain slides for AFB detection. This video will explain how to view SureFocus slides.

For more information on Drucker Diagnostics FM Training resources, or to set up a training session, please see our ParaWorld Training Resources page.

Training resources are also available from some authorized Drucker Diagnostics distributors. To view a list of distributors in your area, click here.

QBC systems have been in use globally for over 25 years with active installations on every continent, including Antarctica. There are over 15,000 active hematology systems worldwide and at least 1,500 fluorescent microscopy system using our Malaria, Parasitology, and AFB kits. If you would like references for any of our innovative solutions from users near you, please contact us.

Fluorescence Microscopy (FM) for tuberculosis detection has been in use since the mid 1940s¹ and is the method of choice for large labs in developed nations. FM has been shown to provide many performance advantages over bright field techniques such as increased sensitivity while maintaining specificity² as well as a decrease in the time required for examinations by up to 75 percent³.

Recent improvements in fluorescence microscopy instruments, including the implementation of durable, long lived bright LEDs have solved many of the issues that have prevented fluorescence microscopy from becoming an accepted methodology for developing countries and low resource settings?. With this improved technology, the benefits of fluorescence microscopy for detection of TB can be had virtually anywhere without sacrificing the sensitivity and specificity obtained with conventional FM?.

F.A.S.T. Tuberculosis

(3) Truant, J.P., Brett, W.A., and Thomas, W. Jr. (1962) Fluorescence Microscopy of Tubercule Bacilli Stained with Auramine and Rhodamine.


(4) Steingart K.R., Henry M., Ng. V. et al. (2006) Fluorescence versus conventional sputum smear microscopy for tuberculosis: a systematic review. Lancet Infectious Disease 6(9):570-581.


(5) Minion, J., Sohn, H, and Pai, M (2009) Light-emitting diode technologies for TB diagnosis: what is on the market? Expert Reviews of Medical Devices; 6(8): 341-345.


(6) Ramsay A, Cuevas LE, Mundy CJF, Nathanson C-M, Chirambo P, et al. (2009) New Policies, New Technologies: Modelling the Potential for Improved Smear Microscopy Services in Malawi. PLoS ONE 4(11): e7760. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007760.


(7) Kouassi N’Guessan, Brian Joseph Hnatkovich, N’Guetta Aka, Armand Achy-Brou, Bakary Coulibaly, Jean Marc Assande, Philomène Mohoudi, Mireille Dosso (2013) QBC ParaLens LED fluorescent microscope attachment with QBC F.A.S.T. AFB staining system. Journal of Tuberculosis Research Vol. 1, No. 3 40-43 (2013)
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Additional data has been submitted for publication.