1. Patient and Specimen Identification
The following information should be included with test requests:
Surname and given name(s) (or name code)GenderDate of birth Address
Presenting signs and symptomsDate of onset of illness Any recent travel historyRecent immunisation history
Type of specimenDate of specimen
VIDRL requires that each specimen and its accompanying request card are labelledwith at least two identifiers which together are capable of distinguishing oneindividual from another. Some requests may be coded to protect patientconfidentiality. A four-letter code consisting of the first two initials of the surnameand given name is the accepted convention. The full name (or name code) and dateof birth should be written on both the specimen and the request card. Failure tocomply with this procedure may delay specimen processing and reporting.
2. Specimens for Virus Detection
Some knowledge of the pathogenesis of the suspected viral infection is necessary foroptimal choice of specimens. For example: the duration and site of viral shedding, orthe presence and timing of viraemia. When possible, specimens for virus detectionshould be obtained from the suspected site of infection (for example, CSF inenteroviral meningitis, vesicular material in herpes simplex infection). Viruses areoften shed via the respiratory or gastrointestinal tracts, and occasionally in urine, allof which are readily accessible. When specimens are difficult to obtain from theaffected organ system, these peripheral sites of viral shedding may provide the onlysource of specimens for virus detection. For instance, enteroviruses potentially maybe detected in both faeces and respiratory secretions in a case of meningitis shouldCSF not be available. Demonstration of peripheral shedding only provides indirectevidence of end organ involvement however.Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is the method of choice at VIDRL for detection of most viruses. PCR provides high levels of sensitivity, and the ability to detect viralPage 3