Virus Detection – CSF

Conformément au Règlement de l’Ontario 671/92 de la Loi sur les services en français, les renseignements d’analyses de laboratoire liés à la présente page ne sont offerts qu’en anglais parce qu’ils sont de nature scientifique ou technique et destinés uniquement à l’usage des fournisseurs de soins de santé qualifiés et non aux membres du public.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

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

Virus Identification1

CSF – Cerebral Spinal Fluid

1.0 ml of CSF

Sterile container

Submission and Collection Notes


CSF samples will be tested by an in-house PCR method, contact PHO Laboratory Customer Service Centre prior to submitting samples if you prefer testing by virus culture (see methods section)

Storage and Transport

Label the specimen container 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

Specimens should be stored at 2-8°C following collection and shipped to PHOL on ice packs.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

Testing for Herpes Simplex Virus, Varicella Zoster Virus, and Enterovirus is performed Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Turnaround time is up to 3 days from date of receipt at PHO laboratory

Test Methods

As of April 24th, 2017 virus culture will no longer be performed, and CSF samples will be tested for HSV1/HSV2/VZV at PHOL-Toronto using a more sensitive in-house real-time PCR method.

Please contact PHOL if virus culture testing is preferred (instead of molecular testing) prior to submitting the specimen(s).



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

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

Mis à jour le 20 juill. 2020