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of Nebraskans through diagnostic laboratory
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Testing Results
IMPORTANT! Sites requesting testing must have approval from the appropriate state or local health department before submitting specimens. Approval must be sent to NPHL by email at or by calling (402) 559-9444.

A Special Microbiology Form must accompany the specimens. Some tests require additional forms and patient history. This will be listed below when applicable. When requested, testing will not be performed without all required information.

Please call NPHL Client Services at (402) 559-2440 or toll free at (866) 290-1406 for further clarification.


  Test: Bordetella pertussis DNA Detection 
  Synonym: Whooping Cough (Pertussis) by qualitative PCR 
  Method: Real-Time DNA Amplification 
  Availability: Monday - Saturday. Results in 1-2 days. 
  Specimen: Nasopharyngeal swab
Nasopharyngeal wash
Note source of specimen on lab order form.  
  Collection Device: Nasopharyngeal swab: swab tip must be polyester (such as Dacron®), rayon, or nylon-flocked with a flexible wire handle and contain Amies charcoal medium for transport. Swabs are available from NPHL Client Services.
Nasopharyngeal wash: sterile container
Specimen Labeling: Test subject to CLIA regulations and required 2 patient identifiers on specimen container and requisition forms  
  Volume: Swab or minimum of 0.5 mL for nasopharyngeal wash  
  Storage/Transport: Refrigerate
Shipping instructions, including specimen-handling requirements during transport:
Package and ship as UN3373 Category B, Biological Substance. Place in biohazard bag with absorbent material. Refrigerated specimen should be shipped on cold packs Transport by NPHL ground courier (NPHL brown shipper not required). If courier not available, contact Client Services (866) 290-1406 to arrange pickup.
See instructions and shipping address: 
  Unacceptable: Incorrect collection device such as swabs that are cotton or calcium alginate tipped, wooden shafted, and those used to collect throat specimens; specimen not transported in correct transport medium; respiratory aspirates in collection containers with tubing. 
  Specimen Stability: Refrigerate 
  Reference Interval: Negative for Bordetella pertussis 
  Reportable Disease: Positive result should be immediately reported to local and state health department 
  Comments: A laboratory confirmed case is present if the specimen is PCR positive for pertussis. Culture confirmation of pertussis for at least one suspicious case is recommended any time there is suspicion of a pertussis outbreak. PCR has optimal sensitivity during the first 3 weeks of cough. PCR testing after 5 days of antibiotic use however is unlikely to be of benefit and it not generally recommended. PCR assays are not standardized across clinical laboratories and interpretation of PCR results must be done in conjunction with an evaluation of signs and symptoms and available epidemiological information.
This test may cross react with Bordetella holmesii. 
  Revised: 12/11/2018 


If you have questions about proper specimen collection, please call NPHL Client Services at (402) 559-2440 or toll free at (866) 290-1406.