Virus cultures


Specimens for virus isolation are obtained during the acute phase of infection, usually from the site of infection. Media for transport of specimens collected on swabs is available from the Microbiology Laboratory. Most cultures are held two weeks before being reported as negative. Cultures for CMV are held for four weeks.



0.5 ml CSF is required. In cases of aseptic meningitis, viruses are more often recovered from throat or stool cultures.


Lesions for Culture and/or FA*

Virus transport media is available from the Microbiology laboratory. Vesicles and the surrounding areas should be cleansed with an alcohol swab and allowed to air dry. Remove the top of the vesicle and absorb fluid on a cotton or dacron swab and firmly scrub the peripheral base of the lesion (calcium alginate swabs inactive Herpes Simplex Virus). Place swab into virus transport media and rotate vigorously. Squeeze excess media from the swab by rolling against the side of the tube. Discard the swab. Transport to the Laboratory immediately or refrigerate up to 18 hours. Direct antigen detection for Herpes and Varicella Zoster virus is available.



Respiratory cultures and FA*

Place endotracheal aspirates and bronchial washings in a sterile container. Sputum specimens are not acceptable. FA direct antigen detection for respiratory viruses is available for nasopharyngeal and throat specimens.



A stool specimen the size of a pea is required. Swabs are not accepted.


RSV, Influenza and other respiratory viruses

Collect nasopharyngeal aspirates or swabs on inpatients. Collection supplies are available from microbiology laboratory. Direct antigen FA tests available are: RSV, Influenza A and B, Parainfluenza 1,2 and 3. If the direct FA is positive, the culture will be canceled.


Stool cultures

Stool specimen preferred. If rectal swabs are used, stool must be present on the swab.


Urine culture

Similar to bacterial culture.


* These specimens should be hand delivered to the main lab on the A level. They should not be sent via the tube system.