Specimen Collection and Laboratory Testing
The types of specimens you should collect for human adenovirus detection depend on the patient’s clinical presentation and type of infection. Before collecting any specimens, discuss with a laboratory and a clinician familiar with adenovirus. To improve human adenovirus detection, you should collect specimens within a week of symptom onset.
- Respiratory Infections
For respiratory infections, you should typically collect upper respiratory specimens such as a nasopharyngeal swab and/or oropharyngeal (throat) swab. If there is evidence of a lower respiratory infection, you should also collect a lower respiratory specimen such as sputum. In some instances, a serum specimen may be helpful.
- Eye Infections
If there is clinical evidence of a conjunctival or eye infection, you should collect a conjunctival swab.
Many laboratories can test for human adenoviruses, but the extent of testing capability can vary. If specialized testing is needed, contact your state health department to discuss available testing options. Additional information on adenovirus testing at CDC is available at Submitting Specimens to CDC.
Laboratories can detect and type human adenoviruses using:
- Molecular detection (e.g. PCR)
- Partial or full genome sequencing
- Antigen detection
- Virus isolation
- Virus neutralization with type-specific antisera
- Lu X and Erdman DD. Molecular typing of human adenovirus by PCR and sequence of a partial region of the hexon gene. Arch Virol. 2006; 151(8):1587-602.
- Lu X, Trujillo-Lopez E, Lott L, Erdman DD. Quantitative real-time PCR assay panel for detection and type-specific identification of the epidemic respiratory human adenoviruses. J Clin Microbiol. 2013; 51(4):1089-1093.
- Lu X and Erdman DD. Quantitative real-time PCR assays for identification of species C human adenoviruses. J Virol. Method. 2016; 237:174-178.
- Page last reviewed: April 26, 2018
- Page last updated: October 5, 2017
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