Rubella – Diagnostic RT-PCR

Consistent with O. Reg. 671/92 of the French Language Services Act, laboratory testing information on this page is only available in English because it is scientific or technical in nature and is for use only by qualified health care providers and not by members of the public.

Testing Indications

If you suspect a case of Rubella-Contact the Public Health Ontario laboratory or your local public health unit prior to collecting specimens.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Laboratory testing of a suspect case of Rubella should include acute and convalescent serology as well as virus detection. Refer to the Test Information Sheet, Rubella Diagnostic Serology for specimen collection and testing information.

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit


Throat/nasopharyngeal swab

One swab in transport media contained in kit

Virus Respiratory Kit order#390082



10 ml

Sterile container


Aborted material, placenta or autopsy material

1.0 gram

Sterile container or for small pieces, in the transport media of Virus Respiratory Kit order#: 390082

Submission and Collection Notes


A nasopharyngeal swab can be collected in addition to a throat swab or can serve as an alternative specimen for infants with CRS. Congenitally infected infants may shed the virus in the urine and in nasopharyngeal secretions for 1 year or more.

Timing of Specimen Collection

Virus can usually be detected in the oropharynx 2-3 days before rash and up to about 7 days post rash. The optimal timing for virus detection is the day of rash through day 5 post rash.

Nasopharyngeal (NP), throat swabs or urine collected as soon as possible after rash onset (within 5 days). Note: specimens collected later will still be accepted however the assay sensitivity will not be optimal.

For congenital rubella cases, collect urine, NP or throat swabs within the first few months after birth. Viral isolates may also be sent.

Storage and Transport

Label the specimen with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Special Instructions

Place specimen in biohazard bag and seal. Specimens should be stored at 2-8°C following collection and shipped to PHO laboratory on ice packs.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Rubella virus PCR is referred to the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) daily Monday to Thursday.

TAT is up to 7 days from receipt by PHO laboratory.

Test Methods

All Rubella detection requests are transferred to National Microbiology Lab-NML in Winnipeg, MB for RT-PCR testing.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

Specimens that are positive for Rubella are reported to the Medical Officer of Health as per Health Protection and Promotion Act.

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Updated 8 Oct 2020