Clinical Virology Laboratory -
Specimen Transportation Guidelines

  • Place the tightly-capped specimen container and associated lab requisition form into separate compartments of a plastic specimen transport bag.

  • Deliver all specimens to the laboratory as soon as possible after collection, since loss of infectivity occurs over time; samples containing low titers of labile viruses are most likely to show loss of infectivity with delayed transport. If immediate delivery is not possible, refrigerate specimens, place them on wet ice or use a cold pack to keep them cool. Loss of viability is slower at low temperatures (2-8°C). Samples should never be frozen.

  • Transport specimens for respiratory syncytial virus culture immediately for prompt inoculation into cell culture. Cytomegalovirus and varicella-zoster virus also are relatively labile, and specimens may lose infectivity rapidly.

  • Do not freeze specimens before testing them. Cytomegalovirus and some respiratory viruses are readily inactivated by even one freeze-thaw cycle. If samples must be frozen, quick-freeze rapidly at -70°C or lower, not at -20°C. Store at 4°C or -70°C. Survival of labile viruses may be promoted by using viral transport mediums like M4 or HBSS with gelatin.