VRESP - Specimen: Viral Culture, Respiratory

Test Catalog

Test ID: VRESP    
Viral Culture, Respiratory

Testing Algorithm Delineates situation(s) when tests are added to the initial order. This includes reflex and additional tests.

All routine viral cultures are inoculated into cell culture tubes for viral detection. The most common specimens received for routine testing include bronchoalveolar lavage, sputum, and throat. A rapid (16-hour incubation) shell vial cell culture assay will be inoculated when specimens are designated for herpes simplex virus or cytomegalovirus detection or as appropriate for source indicated.


-For oral specimens for suspected hand-foot-and-mouth disease or  enterovirus, clearly indicate "enterovirus" on request.


Testing for Mumps or Measles Virus: Do not submit specimens for viral culture testing if there is a suspicion of mumps or measles virus. Suspect mumps or measles cases should be submitted directly to a state health department for laboratory testing.


Do not submit specimens for viral culture testing if there is a suspicion of Ebola virus or any viral hemorrhagic fever, avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome Coronovirus (MERS-CoV), or other high-risk infectious agents. Contact your state health department for more information and testing options.

Specimen Type Describes the specimen type needed for testing


Specimen Required Defines the optimal specimen. This field describes the type of specimen required to perform the test and the preferred volume to complete testing. The volume allows automated processing, fastest throughput and, when indicated, repeat or reflex testing.

Forms: If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send a Microbiology Test Request Form (T244) with the specimen (http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/it-mmfiles/microbiology_test_request_form.pdf).


Specimen source is required. Specimen must be transported at refrigerate temperature.


Specimen Type: Lower respiratory tract specimens such as bronchoalveolar lavage, bronchial washings or aspirates, tracheal secretions or sputum

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 1 mL


Specimen Type: Throat


Preferred: BBL CultureSwab (T092)

Acceptable: Dacron-tipped swab with plastic handle (T507)

Specimen Volume: Swab

Collection Instructions: Return swab to swab cylinder or multi-microbe medium (M5) (T484).


Specimen Type: Tissue

Sources: Lung and others
Sterile container with 1-2 mL of sterile saline or M5 (T484)

Specimen Volume: Entire collection


Specimen Type: Oral

Container/Tube: Dacron-tipped swab with plastic handle (T507)

Specimen Volume: Swab

Collection Instructions:

1. Place swab in M5 viral transport media.

2. Indicate "Looking for enterovirus" or "Looking for mumps" if applicable.

Specimen Minimum Volume Defines the amount of specimen required to perform an assay once, including instrument and container dead space. Submitting the minimum specimen volume makes it impossible to repeat the test or perform confirmatory or perform reflex testing. In some situations, a minimum specimen volume may result in a QNS (quantity not sufficient) result, requiring a second specimen to be collected.


Reject Due To Identifies specimen types and conditions that may cause the specimen to be rejected








Frozen, gel swab, swab with wooden handle, lymph node swab or tissue, bone marrow or bone tissue, wound swab, or tissue. Swab with a wood handle has been shown to be toxic to some viruses and is not acceptable for culture. Gel swab is not acceptable for culture.

Specimen Stability Information Provides a description of the temperatures required to transport a specimen to the laboratory. Alternate acceptable temperature(s) are also included.

Specimen TypeTemperatureTime
VariesRefrigerated7 days