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Test Code BLOD0979 MISC LAB (MAYO) Viral Culture, Respiratory

Important Note

This viral culture test is for respiratory sources only. PCR testing is the optimal choice for turnaround time and detection.  For PCR testing, search in this test catalog by virus name, or refer to the following test:

For non-respiratory specimens, PCR testing is suggested for optimal turnaround time and detection.  PCR testing is available for most viruses and can be found individually or in a panel by specimen source.  Search this test catalog by virus name or source.  If a viral culture for a non-respiratory specimen is still desired, please call the laboratory at 414-5010.  The laboratory will assist you in ordering a viral culture for a non-respiratory specimen that is sent to Sanford Laboratories.  The Sanford Laboratories viral culture has turnaround time of approximately 3 weeks.

Additional Codes

Mayo Test Code: VRESP

Useful For

Diagnosing viral infections in respiratory specimens

Performing Laboratory

Mayo Medical Laboratories in Rochester

Specimen Type


Advisory Information

Source-based recommendation for testing:

Esophogeal specimens: for tissue, swabs, or brushings order VIRNR / Viral Culture, Non Respiratory


Infectious agent-based recommendations for testing:

If herpes simplex visus (HSV) is suspected in a neonatal patient (<1 month), order VHSV / Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), Culture From Neonates


State Health Department testing only: specimens will not be accepted at Mayo Medical Laboratories for the following diseases (submit directly to your state health department).



-High-risk infectious agents (examples of high-risk infections agents include: Ebola and other causative agents of viral hemorrhagic fever, avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

Shipping Instructions

Specimen must be transported at refrigerate temperature and swab specimens should be sent in viral transport media.


Specimens must be received and cultured in the laboratory within 7 days postcollection. 


Specimens for viral culture should be transported to the laboratory as soon as possible for optimal recovery.

Necessary Information

Specimen source is required.

Specimen Required

Specimen Type: Lower respiratory tract specimens such as bronchoalveolar lavage, bronchial washings or aspirates, tracheal aspirates or secretions, pleural fluid, nasal swab or washing or sputum

Container/Tube: Sterile container

Specimen Volume: 1 mL



Nasopharyngeal Swab (Rayon Mini-Tip swab) (T515)

M4-RT (T605)

Specimen Type: Nasopharynx

Specimen Volume: Entire collection

Collection Instructions:

1. Collect specimen by swabbing back and forth over mucosa surface to maximize recovery of cells.

2. Place swab into M4-RT media (T605) or other viral transport media (M4 or M5).



Culturette (BBL Culture Swab) (T092)

M4-RT (T605)

Swab, Sterile Polyester (T507)

Specimen Type: Throat

Container/Tube: Multimicrobe Media (M4-RT) (T605)

Preferred: BBL CultureSwab (T092)

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

Specimen Volume: Swab

Collection Instructions: Place swab back into multimicrobe media (M4-RT, M4, or M5).


Supplies: M4-RT (T605)

Specimen Type: Tissue

Sources: Lung and others
Sterile container containing 1 mL to 2 mL of sterile saline or multimicrobe medium (M4-RT, M4, or M5).

Specimen Volume: Entire collection



Swab, Sterile Polyester (T507)

M4-RT (T605)

Specimen Type: Oral

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

Specimen Volume: Swab

Collection Instructions: Place swab back into multimicrobe media (M4-RT, M4, or M5).

Specimen Minimum Volume

See Specimen Required

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time
Varies Refrigerated 7 days

Reference Values


If positive, virus is identified.

Day(s) and Time(s) Performed

Monday through Sunday; Varies

Test Classification

This test uses a standard method. Its performance characteristics were determined by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements. This test has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

CPT Code Information

87252-Tissue culture inoculation

87176-Tissue processing (if appropriate)

87253-Additional testing virus, identification (if appropriate)

87254-Viral smear, shell vial (if appropriate)

Reject Due To








Gel swab, E-swab, swab with wooden handle

Testing Algorithm

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.


If enterovirus or hand, foot, and mouth disease is suspected, clearly indicate "enterovirus" on request.

Method Name

Cell Culture

Shell Vial Assay for Herpes Simplex Virus or Cytomegalovirus

Reflex Tests

Test ID Reporting Name Available Separately Always Performed
TISSR Tissue Processing No, (Bill Only) No
VID2 Additional Testing Virus Ident No, (Bill Only) No
SVIR Viral Smear, Shell Vial No, (Bill Only) No


If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send a Microbiology Test Request Form (T244) with the specimen (