Virology

Appropriate Specimens for Isolation of Viruses

In the information provided below please note, the turn-around-time for each type of virus listed is an estimate of the minimum time that cultures will be examined before being reported out as negative. Delays in reporting may occur if a specimen being tested is toxic to one or more of the cell lines being used resulting in the need to "pass" current cultures into new ones.

Adenovirus
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • Conjunctival swab or scraping (for eye syndrome)
  • CSF Urine (virus may be present if there is renal involvement)
  • Rectal swabs or stool
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolates identified by fluorescent antibody staining and typed by neutralization.
Arbovirus
  • Because arboviruses are usually no longer being shed by patients once they are ill enough to seek medical treatment, isolation attempts for arboviruses are rarely successful. Submitters desiring arbovirus isolation should contact the Virology laboratory. Since serologic testing is appropriate for the detection of arbovirus infections, acute and convalescent sera should also be submitted.
Coxsackie A Viruses
  • Stool
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • CSF
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by neutralization
Coxsackie B Viruses
  • Stool
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • CSF
  • Pericardial fluid (myocarditis, pericarditis, pleurodynia)
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by neutralization
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Urine
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • Bronch washes/biopsy (especially AIDS patients)
  • Blood
  • Turn-around time: 30 days
  • Isolate identification by fluorescent antibody staining
  • Note: Urine and respiratory specimens tested for CMV are routinely set up in shell vials. Shell vials are "blind" stained at 48 and 96 hours for the presence of CMV.
Echo Viruses
  • Stool
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • CSF
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by neutralization
Enteroviruses (Coxsackie A, Coxsackie B, ECHO, and Polio viruses)
  • Stool
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • CSF
  • Pericardial fluid (coxsackie b only)
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by neutralization
Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV)
  • Vesicle scrapings/fluid
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • Brain biopsy (meningoencephalitis)
  • Turn-around time: 7 days
  • Isolate identification by fluorescent antibody staining
  • The Virology Section does not subtype herpes-virus isolates.
Influenza Viruses
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal (Note: Do not freeze)
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by fluorescent antibody staining
  • Typing done by Hemagglutination Inhibition (HI)
Measles Virus
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • Urine
  • Whole blood (buffy coat preferable to serum)
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by fluorescent antibody staining and/or complement fixation
Mumps Virus
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • Sputum
  • Urine
  • CSF
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by fluorescent antibody staining and/or complement fixation
Parainfluenza Viruses
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • Sputum
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by fluorescent antibody staining
Polio Viruses
  • Stool
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • CSF
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by neutralization
  • The Virology Section should be promptly notified if the patient's diagnosis includes the possibility of polio.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by fluorescent antibody staining
Rhinoviruses
  • Throat/nasopharyngeal
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by acid lability testing and fluorescent antibody staining
Rubella Virus
  • The Virology laboratory does not routinely perform virus isolation testing for the rubella virus. Contact the Virology Section if rubella is suspected. Blood specimens for serologic testing should be drawn.
Varicella Zoster Virus
  • Vesicle fluid
  • Turn-around time: 14 days
  • Isolate identification by fluorescent antibody staining