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Molecular Detection of Powassan Virus by Reverse Transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR)

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Molecular detection of Powassan (POW) virus by reverse transcriptase PCR. 

Test Category:
Molecular Detection
Powassan virus
Illnesses and Diseases:
  • Powassan encephalitis

Serum is the preferred specimen; however testing may also be performed on plasma or cerebral spinal fluid (CSF).  Other bodily fluids and tissues may be considered for testing, please contact the Viral Zoonoses laboratory to verify suitability. Minimum volume of 600 µl.

Collection Method:

Collect blood in serum separator tubes – submit in 2 ml O-ring tube.  

Specimen Processing, Storage and Shipping:

Store samples frozen until shipped for testing. Ship samples on dry ice.

Transportation of Dangerous Goods:

Shipping of specimens shall be done by a TDG certified individual in accordance with TDG regulations. For additional information regarding classification of specimens for the purposes of shipping, consult either Part 2 Appendix 3 of the TDG Regulations or section 3.6.2 of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations as applicable.

Patient Criteria:

Suspected POW virus infection. 

Accompanying Documentation:

Completed Viral Zoonoses requisition including sender laboratory name, address and telephone number. Patient name and / or identifier (specimen reference number), date of birth, test(s) requested, collection date of specimen, date of on-set of symptoms, type of specimen, and clinical and travel history of patient.


This is not a routine test.  RT-PCR on serum, plasma or CSF is not a sensitive test for Powassan virus. Please contact the Viral Zoonoses Laboratory before sending specimens or requesting this test.

Methods and Interpretation of Results:

Powassan virus real-time RT-PCR based on TaqMan chemistry. Two separate singleplex assays are performed targeting two distinct genomic regions; a result is classified as positive if both targets are detected and each Ct value falls within a pre-established cut-off value for each assay. If only a single target is detected, the test is repeated and/or other testing platforms may be enlisted to resolve the interpretation of the result.

Turnaround Time:

Please contact the laboratory for the turnaround time.

Phone #: (204) 789-7037
Fax: (204) 789-2018
  1. Telford III, S.R., Armstrong, P.M., Katavolos, P, Foppa, I., Garcia, A.S.O., Wilson, M.L. and Spielman, A. A new tick-borne encephalitis-like virus infecting New England deer ticks, Ixodes dammini. Emerg Infect Dis. 997. 3: 165-170.
  2. Ebel, G.D., Spielman, A., and Telford III, S.R. Phylogeny of north American powassan virus. J. Gen Virol. 2001. 82: 1657-1665.
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