Poxvirus – Skin

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

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

Virus culture and electron microscopy (EM)

Exudate and scrapings from skin lesions, skin crust and swab


Clean container or Virus Culture Collection Kit order #390081

Submission and Collection Notes


Specimen should be collected in a clean container or a Virus Culture Collection Kit. Specimen for EM should be placed on a glass slide then inserted into a clean container.


In a case of suspected Smallpox, consult the Microbiologist on call at PHO and your local health unit.

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 ASAP, where possible.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

The Poxvirus test is performed daily Monday to Friday.

TAT for EM is up to 3 days.

Samples tested by virus culture are observed for a minimum of 10 days prior to reporting a negative culture result; samples that are positive can be observed at any point during this period.
TAT for Virus Culture is up to 12 days.

TAT will vary during the winter months.


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

Test Methods

Poxvirus diagnosis is usually made on the clinical appearance. Specimens may be tested by Electron Microscopy (EM) and Virus Culture.

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Updated 22 Oct 2019