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Epic Code LAB254 Viral Culture

Important Note

For cutaneous or mucocutaneous lesion specimens (genital, oral, skin), please order molecular HSV PCR and/or VZV PCR as the preferred diagnostic methods.

If  ordering a viral culture due to suspect mumps or measles, these cultures must be forwarded to the Michigan Department of Health for laboratory testing.  Prior approval through coordination with your local Health Department is required. Ordering provider must fill out required State of Michigan order request form and this paperwork must accompany the specimen

Michigan Department of Health: 517-335-8059,5885,7-339-71551_2945_5103---,00.html

Test Name Alias

Culture Virus | 8902

Interface Order Alias


Clinical Information

Viruses that are detected in cell culture include: Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), Enterovirus, Adenovirus, Influenza A, Influenza B, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Parainfluenza virus 1, Parainfluenza virus 2, and Parainfluenza virus 3.

Icons & Photos

Please review Specimen Requirments and Specimen Types for correct/preferred container

Sterile container with screw-on lid [ITM-1072848] Universal Transport Media (UTM) Kit with Mini-Tip Swab for NP collection [ITM-1140078]  

Specimen Requirements

Viral culture is typically a slow and insensitive diagnostic method and is often not recommended when there are molecular testing alternatives.


Respiratory Specimens (nasopharyngeal swabs and BAL)

See Respiratory Pathogens by FilmArray PCR panel (LAB3359)


Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)

See HSV 1/2 PCR (LAB9170) and/or Enterovirus PCR (LAB8620).


Dermal Swab Specimens

See HSV Lesions PCR (LAB3549) and/or VZV PCR, Swab (LAB1230844)


Genital Swab Specimens

See HSV Lesions PCR (LAB3549)

Submit only one of the following specimens


Specimen Type: Nasopharyngeal swab (NP)
Container/Tube: Flocked swab with Viral Transport Media (UTM)
Collection Instructions: Tilt the head of the patient, gently insert the swab through one of the nostrils and into the nasal passage. Rotate the swab tip several times across the mucosal surface. Remove the swab and insert into the red top tube of viral transport medium (UTM) immediately. Push the swab into the tube and break the plastic shaft swab at the break line. Replace cap and screw on tightly.



Specimen Type: Nasopharyngeal wash/aspirate
Container/Tube: Viral Transport Media (UTM)

Note: nasopharyngeal swabs are the preferred upper respiratory specimen type.

Collection Instructions: If possible, obtain specimen during the acute phase of the illness when the greatest amount of viral shedding is present.
1) Nasopharyngeal wash-volumes of 2-3 mL are recommended. (Excessive wash volumes may decrease the sensitivity of the assay).
2) Place specimen in viral transport media (UTM).
3) Transport within 24 hours.



Specimen Type: Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid, Sputum

Container/Tube: Sterile collection container



Specimen Type: Body fluid (indicate source/type).

Container/Tube: Sterile collection container

Minimum volume: 0.5 mL

Collection Instructions: Store at 2-8°C. Specimens must be received by Spectrum Health Laboratory within 24 hours of collection. Freeze at –70°C if transport exceeds 24 hours.



Specimen Type: Tissue

Container/Tube: Sterile collection container. Viral Transport Media (UTM) may be used for small tissues if immediate transport is not available.



Specimen Type: Stool

Container/Tube: Sterile collection container. Viral Transport Media (UTM) may be used if immediate transport is not available.

Collection Instructions: Fill specimen to the line indicated on the container. Do not overfill. Send specimen to the lab immediately. See reference material on the left for patient instructions on stool collection.

Specimen Transport Temperature

Refrigerate or on ice

Special Instructions

Blood and bone marrow are not good specimen sources for viral culture and are frequently toxic to cell culture lines. 


For urine specimens, see test CMV culture (LAB255).


If Viral Culture is ordered simultaneously with test Respiratory Viruses by FilmArray, Viral Culture will be cancelled due to redundant coverage.

Specimen Stability

Ambient: Not acceptable

Refrigerate: 24 hours

Frozen: 72 hours

Laboratory Retention: 3 days

Test Frequency

Available daily, usual TAT 10-21 days.

Reference Range

No virus isolated

Performing Department


Performing Department Laboratory Location

Spectrum Health Regional Laboratory, Grand Rapids, MI


Cell culture


87252, 87254

CDM Code

4118902, 4118909

Epic Test ID


Beaker LOINC


Mayo Access Code


Reviewed Date


Beaker Names

Beaker Procedure Name: VIRAL CULTURE
Beaker Display Name: Viral Culture

Beaker Synonyms

No synonym on file

Beaker Location, Container and Temperature

BW MICROBIOLOGY: CSF TUBE R (Acceptable)-Refrigerated