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

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Molecular detection of West Nile virus by real-time reverse transcriptase PCR. 

Test Category:
Molecular Detection
West Nile virus (WNV)
Illnesses and Diseases:
  • West Nile 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 WNV fever. 

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.


Please note that the point of sample collection with respect to symptom onset is essential to help determine which tests are conducted and with interpretation of results. 

Methods and Interpretation of Results:

West Nile 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:

21 calendar days.

Phone #: (204) 789-7037
Fax: (204) 789-2018
  1. Lanciottis, R.S., Kerst, A.J., Nasci, R.S., Godsey, M.S., Mitchell, C.J., Savage, H.M., Komar, N., Panella, N.A., Allen, B.C., Volpe, K.E., Davis, B.S., and Roehrig, J.T. Rapid detection of West Nile virus from human clinical specimens, field-collected mosquitoes, and avian samples by a TaqMan reverse transcriptase-PCR assay. 2000. J. Clin. Micro. 38:4066-4071.