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Instructions for Submitting MERS-CoV Specimens for testing at CDC
To increase the likelihood of detecting infection, CDC recommends collecting multiple specimens from different sites at different times after symptom onset, if possible. Respiratory specimens should be collected as soon as possible after symptoms begin, ideally within 7 days and before antivirals are administered, but can also be collected later if symptoms persist.
Lower Respiratory Specimens are preferred:
  • Bronchoalveolar lavage
  • Pleural fluid
  • Tracheal aspirate
  • Sputum
Additional Specimen Collections to include the following:
  • Upper Respiratory specimens:
o       Nasopharyngeal swabs and/or oropharyngeal swabs.  Swab specimens should be collected using Dacron polyester swabs or flocked swabs on a plastic shaft (wooden shafts are not acceptable). Swabs specimens must be inserted into 2-3 ml of viral transport media and can be combined by placing both swabs in the same vial.
o       Nasopharyngeal wash/aspirate or nasal wash/aspirate.
  • Serum – for rRT-PCR testing, ideally collected with 3 -4 days after symptoms onset.
  • Serum – for serological testing, collected during the acute stage of the disease (within the first week) and during the convalescent stage approximately 3 weeks after symptom onset.  If cannot collect acute phase, a single serum sample collected 14 or more days after symptom onset may be beneficial. Plasma (EDTA blood tube) may also be submitted for testing.
  • Stool – 2 -5 grams of stool specimen formed or liquid.
Immediately store the specimens at 2-8°C and ship on a cold pack with 72 hours of collection.  If samples cannot be shipped within 72 hours, the specimens should be stored at -70°C and shipped frozen on dry ice as soon as possible.  Do NOT freeze EDTA blood tube.  Be sure to package specimens properly for transport. Label each specimen container with the patient’s ID number, specimen type and the date the sample was collected. Refer to CDC website for additional information for specimen collection and shipping:
Complete all required fields on the Virology test request form (form 42) and the CDC specimen submission (form 50.34) found at  Both the test request form and the specimen container label must be labeled with the patient name or unique identifier and/or other relevant information or the sample will not be tested.  Visit the OSPHL website for additional information at
OSPHL Contact Information:
Oregon State Public Health Laboratory
Virology/Immunology Section
P.O. Box 235
Portland, OR  97207-0275
For Additional Information: 503-693-4100