Diagnostic Test Directory

Virology Laboratory

Influenza A Virus (Flu A) PCR - respiratory specimens

  • LIS Mnemonic: FLUAPCR


    Nasopharyngeal Aspirate

    Volume Required


    Minimum Required



    Keep specimen at 4C




    Respiratory specimen of choice is a NASOPHARYNGEAL ASPIRATE. Collect the aspirate in a leukens trap and immediately transport to Clinical Virology Laboratory. Refer to the Nursing Procedure Manual, Section VII, Respiratory Care, 7:14:a for complete instructions on the collection of a nasopharyngeal aspirate using a leukens trap. Nasal washings, tracheal aspirates, and bronchoalveolar lavage specimens may be submitted. Collection of COMBINED THROAT AND NASOPHARYNGEAL SWABS is recommended for patients in which aspirates or washings cannot be readily obtained. For collection of nasopharyngeal swab specimen:1. Insert swab into one nostril.2. Press swab tip on the mucosal surface of the mid-inferior portion of the inferior turbinate, and rub the swab tip several times across the mucosal surface to loosen and collect cellular material.3. Withdraw the swab; place swab into tube of Viral Transport Medium.For collection of oropharyngeal swab specimen:1. Ask patient to open mouth widely and phonate an 'ah'.2. Gently depress the tongue with a tongue blade.3. Guide a swab over the tongue into the posterior oropharynx.4. Using a gentle back-and-forth sweeping motion, swab the area behind the uvula and between the tonsillar pillars.5. Withdraw the swab; place swab into the same tube of Viral Transport Medium that contains the nasoparyngeal swab. Immediately transport to the Clinical Virology Laboratory.

    Unacceptable conditions

    Swab specimens not received in viral transport medium or received in bacteriological transport medium are discouraged. DO NOT USE CALCIUM ALGINATE OR WOODEN SHAFT SWABS FOR COLLECTION OF SPECIMENS; ONLY USE DACRON OR RAYON TIPPED SWABS ON PLASTIC OR METAL SHAFTS.

Days Performed



Same day

Reflex Testing





Amplification and detection of influenza A virus RNA using real-time TaqMan PCR and nucleic acid primer/probe pairs specific for conserved regions of the influenza A virus genome. This test is performed pursuant to an agreement with Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.


If positive, results are reported as influenza virus type A RNA detected.

Reference Values

Negative or no influenza virus type A RNA detected

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