Office Of Labatory Services


West Virginia partners with the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Surveillance Labs around the world for influenza surveillance. Influenza surveillance is critical because it provides vital information for vaccine composition, pandemic influenza preparedness, outbreak investigations and preventive interventions.

In West Virginia, influenza surveillance is conducted through a network of sentinel physicians and laboratories. These physicians and laboratories submit specimens to the Office of Laboratory Services for viral identification. OLS further subtypes influenza A isolates to determine circulating strain.

How do I become a sentinel physician?

To become a sentinel physician, contact the Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 304-558-5358.

How do I submit a specimen to OLS?

If you are a sentinel site, please refer to the collection and submission instructions contained in your enrollment package and provided with your collection kits, or call 304-558-3530 x2403.

If you are not an enrolled sentinel site and would like to submit a specimen, please call 304-558-3530 x2403.

What type of testing occurs at OLS?

OLS tests for Influenza and other respiratory viruses using real-time RT-PCR.  Certain tests are only performed in outbreak situations and must be approved by a Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiologist.

What type of specimens are acceptable for respiratory analysis?

The specimen of choice is nasopharyngeal swabs or aspirates. Other acceptable specimens include nasal washes and swabs, tracheal aspirates, and nasopharyngeal washes. Throat swabs are not recommended but will be accepted provided the swabs do not contain calcium alginate and do not have wooden shafts as these may be inhibitory to viruses.

How do I transport the specimen?

Specimens must be collected and transported as soon after onset of symptoms as possible. One to three days is optimal. Submission of specimen after five days from date of collection will be considered compromised.  Transport medium must be stored at 2-8°C until used. Once collected, swabs must continue to be refrigerated until packaged and mailed. OLS must receive the specimen within 72 hours after collection. If unable to get the specimen to OLS within 72 hours post-collection, the specimen must be frozen (preferably at -70°C).  All specimens must be shipped to OLS with frozen cold packs.  Complete collection and mailing kits, including return postage labels, are provided by OLS.

When and how are test results reported?

Influenza PCR results are returned to the originating submitter within 24-48 business hours after receipt.  Results are also reported to the Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology (DIDE).  Positive results are also sent to the county health department where the patient resides.  Positive results are also sent to the county health department where the patient resides.


Page Last Updated: Dec 30, 2013
Site Last Updated: Sep 12, 2017

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