Specimens for Measles Virus Isolation or RT-PCR Detection
Throat or nasopharyngeal swabs are generally the preferred sample for virus isolation or RT-PCR detection. Urine samples may also contain virus and when feasible to do so, collection of both respiratory and urine samples can increase the likelihood of detecting virus. Collect samples as soon after rash as possible. The samples should be collected at the first contact with a suspected case of measles when the serum sample for diagnosis is drawn.
Measles virus isolation is most successful when samples are collected on the first day of rash through 3 days following onset of rash; however, it is possible to detect virus up to day 7 following rash onset.
Measles virus is sensitive to heat and desiccation. The viability decreases markedly when samples are not kept cold. It is important to transport samples with cold packs as soon as possible following sample collection. Avoid repeat freeze-thaw cycles or freezing at -20°C (standard freezer temp). If -40°C or -70°C freezers are not available, it is recommended to keep the sample in the refrigerator (4°C).
For throat, nasopharyngeal or nasal swabs that are in very little fluid (1-4ml), the entire sample can be frozen at -70°C or if low temperature freezers are not available, keep the sample at 4°C until shipment.
Measles virus is present in the cells that have been sloughed off in the urinary tract. Virus can be present in the urine even a few days before rash appears and begins to diminish a few days following rash. For optimal virus preservation, centrifuge 10-50ml of urine and resuspend the sediment in 2-3 ml of sterile transport medium, tissue culture medium or physiological buffered saline. Freeze the resuspended urine sample at -70° C or keep the urine sample at 4° C and ship on cold packs as soon as possible to a laboratory that is able to perform viral isolation.
CDC is a designated WHO Measles Strain Bank and requests submission of viral isolates or clinical specimens from cases of measles for genetic characterization.
Viral isolates and clinical specimens arriving from outside of the USA will require a CDC Import Permit and Address Label, available upon request (a faxed copy is acceptable). A copy of the import permit must accompany the shipping documents. The import address label must be affixed to the outer shipping container. Please call, fax or e-mail CDC's Measles Virus Section to obtain a valid permit if the date has expired or if the permit has been lost.
It is important to notify the Measles Virus Section before shipping.
Tel: 404-639-1156 or 404-639-3512
Shipping address for CDC:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
DASH #81 Att: Dr. Bellini
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30333
For additional information about shipping specimens, consult the 2007 measles lab manual of the World Health Organization.
This symbol means you are leaving the CDC.gov Web site. For more information, please see CDC's Exit Notification and Disclaimer policy.
Copyrighted images: Images on this website which are copyrighted were used with permission of the copyright holder and are not in the public domain. CDC has licensed these images for use in the materials provided on this website, and the materials in the form presented on this website may be used without seeking further permission. Any other use of copyrighted images requires permission from the copyright holder.