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Influenza - Respiratory
Specimen Type:

​Nasopharyngeal swab, throat swab, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), pleural fluid, respiratory tract tissue


Virus-Respiratory Collection Kit. Nasopharyngeal aspirates, pleural fluid, respiratory tract tissue or BALs may be submitted in sterile containers.

The recommended respiratory specimen is a nasopharyngeal swab or aspirate.

Collection information:

​To order Collection Kits or other PHOL Supplies complete the Requisition for Containers and Supplies. The form should be faxed to the Public Health Ontario Laboratory at 416-235-5753 or your local PHOL.

Minimum volume required:

​Submit 1 swab or 2.0 ml aspirate


​Complete all fields of the General Test Requisition Form. Ensure the following fields are completed if diagnostic testing is requested:

  • Patient setting (ICU, hospitalized, ER not admitted)
  • Identify if patient is at risk of  influenza complications (check off  “influenza high risk” tick box)
  • Symptoms
  • Onset date
  • Travel history 
  • Animal exposure; contact PHOL Customer Service if submitting specimens from a patient with respiratory symptoms of onset within 10 days of swine or avian exposure



Preparation prior to transport:

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

Special Instructions:

​Follow the instructions found in the Virus-Respiratory Kit Instruction Sheet.


Refer to the current labstract on respiratory viral testing titled: LAB-SD-121 (Respiratory Viral Testing Algorithm and Enhanced Surveillance - Update) for testing method that will be performed based on patient setting.

Testing methods include multiplex respiratory viral PCR (MRVP), rapid (flu A/B) antigen detection (outbreaks only) and traditional virus culture (mainly for tissue samples).

Respiratory viral testing in non high-risk ambulatory patients is of minimal clinical value for this patient group and will no longer be available at PHO.


​For Outbreaks, contact your local Health Unit.


The Influenza testing is performed daily Monday to Saturday.

The TAT for the Direct Rapid Antigen Test for Influenza is within 1 day after receipt.

The TAT for MRVP is up to 3 days after receipt at testing site.

Samples tested by virus culture are observed for a minimum of 17 days prior to reporting a negative culture result; samples that are positive can be observed at any point during this period; TAT is up to 18 days.

TAT will vary during the winter months.


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

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

Uncontrolled print copy. Valid only on day of Print: [date]
Page updated on [date/time] 07/11/2016 8:27 AM
© , Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion