Laboratory Testing and Specimen Collection

CDC is investigating a possible association between pediatric hepatitis and adenovirus infection. Visit CDC’s NCIRD site for information about the investigation: Children with Acute Hepatitis of Unknown Cause.

Laboratory Testing

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

Specimen Collection

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.
  • Gastroenteritis Infections: See Recommendations for Collection of Laboratory Specimens Associated with Outbreaks of Gastroenteritis (

Resources and References

Related Pages