Cytomegalovirus – Detection – Real Time PCR

Testing Indications

This assay has been validated for use as a qualitative PCR. This assay has not been validated for blood specimens.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

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

Cytomegalovirus PCR

Bronchio-alveolar lavage (BAL)/bronchial wash

2.0 ml

Sterile container

Cytomegalovirus PCR


2.0 ml

Sterile container

Cytomegalovirus PCR


400 µl

Sterile container

Cytomegalovirus PCR

Tissue (e.g. Lung)

1.0 gram

Sterile container

Preparation Prior to 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)

Cytomegalovirus PCR is performed Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Turnaround time for CMV real-time PCR is up to 3 days after receipt by PHO laboratory.


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

CSF specimens that are positive for cytomegalovirus are reported to the Medical Officer of Health as per Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Test Methods

Specimens are tested for CMV by real-time PCR (qualitative real-time PCR using Altona RealStar® CMV PCR Kit 1.0). This commercial assay, which is not Health Canada approved, has been validated at PHOL for testing clinical specimens for qualitative detection of CMV DNA. The manufacturer has reported a limit of detection of 0.668 IU/ml (95% CI 0.323 to 2.258 IU/ml) using the ABI 7500 FAST SDS system.

If detection of respiratory viruses is requested on the same specimen, additional testing will be done depending on the patient setting (respiratory virus testing is currently only routinely available for inpatients and patients being tested as part of an outbreak investigation).


The presence of CMV DNA in a sample does not always imply active infection; the diagnosis of CMV infection must be made using a combination of clinical suspicion, physical exam and detection of virus.

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Updated 12 April 2019