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.
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.