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Public Health Laboratory

    

Contact Information
Los Angeles County
Department of Public Health
Public Health Laboratory
12750 Erickson Avenue
Downey, California 90242

Laboratory Director
Nicole M. Green, Ph.D, D(ABMM)

Phone: (562) 658-1300
Fax: (562) 401-5999

Monday - Friday
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Public Health Laboratory - Viral Specimen Information

TEST REQUEST INFORMATION

The virology laboratory requests the submitter to supply as much information as possible. The information should include the source, date collected, and date of onset of symptoms if known. The clinical background is also helpful. It is especially important to indicate when LCM, Poxvirus, Herpes B virus, Rubella, Measles, Rhinovirus or Arboviruses are suspected.

COLLECTION TIME AND VIRAL RECOVERY

Specimens should be collected early in the acute phase of infection. Herpes simplex virus and Varicella-Zoster viruses are not usually recovered from healing lesions. Respiratory viruses are recovered during the 3-7 day viral shedding period following infection. Isolation of an enterovirus (Coxsackie virus, ECHO virus) from the CSF is most productive within 2-3 days after onset of the CNS manifestations.

REPORTING

Final and preliminary reports vary according to the type of culture. Negative routine viral cultures are reported at 2 weeks. Negative CMV conventional cultures are reported at 4 weeks, rapid CMV culture assays are reported at 48 hours.

COLLECTION, TRANSPORTATION AND STORAGE GUIDELINES

  • Viral specimens should be held at 4 C rather than frozen for short term (<72 hours) transit and storage.
  • Sterile body fluids such as cerebrospinal fluid do not require any transport medium and should not be diluted.
  • Avoid calcium alginate swabs with Herpes and Chlamydia cultures. The fibers may inactivate these agents.
  • Avoid any wooden shafted swabs that may be inhibitory to viruses and Chlamydia.
  • It is usually not possible to isolate arboviruses from clinical specimens. In such cases serological studies are helpful.
  • Chlamydia culture specimens should be refrigerated for short term (<24 hours) transit and storage. For delays exceeding 24 hours, freeze and transport on dry ice.

DO NOT FREEZE any specimens for which the clinical background indicates CMV, RSV or VZV. REFRIGERATE and transport to the laboratory within 72 hours.

SPECIMEN COLLECTION

Specimen Source Collection Procedures Transportation and Storage
Blood Collect aseptically in a purple top Vacutainer®. Maintain at room temperature
Body fluids other than blood or urine Collect 2-3 cc using aseptic technique. Less than 2 cc is acceptable in the case of CSF. Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours.
CSF Collect in sterile tube. Do not dilute CSF Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours.
Eye Swab the inflamed conjunctiva or corneal lesions. Place swab in M4 Transport Medium. Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours.
Feces Collect 1-2 grams of fresh stool. Place specimen in a sterile container without preservative. Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours.
Rectal Insert swab into the rectum. Place swab into M4 Transport Medium. Store and transport 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours.
Respiratory tract Collect expectorate from a deep cough only when transtracheal aspiration, tracheal aspiration, or washings are unavailable. Place specimen in a sterile container. Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours. (See exceptions for freezing)
Throat, nasopharyngeal swab, washing Swab the affected area or have patient gargle with sterile buffered saline. Place swab or expectorant in sterile container. Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours. (See exceptions for freezing)
Tissue from autopsy or biopsy Collect each specimen using aseptic technique. Place in separate sterile containers. Collect autopsy specimens as soon as possible and biopsy specimens as soon after onset of symptoms as possible. Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours. (See exceptions for freezing)
Urine Specimen should be a primary A.M. void. Collect 5-10 ml in a sterile screw cap container. Store at 4 C and transport to the laboratory within 72 hours. Do not freeze urine specimens.
Vesicle fluid Collect the fluid from several fresh vesicles. Either aspirate the fluids using a syringe fitted with a 26G needle or collect the fluids and cells with swab. Place fluid and/or swab in M4 Transport Medium. Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours. (See exceptions for freezing)
Washings Collect with sterile saline or Ringer's lactate solution. Place 2 cc of the washings into M4 Transport Medium. Store and transport at 4 C. Freeze and transport on dry ice if the specimen is to be held longer than 72 hours.
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