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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 Culture 
  Synonym: Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Culture 
  Method: Bacterial Culture 
  Availability: Daily; results within 7 days 
  Specimen: Posterior nasopharyngeal swab (throat or anterior nasal swabs are not acceptable) or nasopharyngeal aspirate - flush posterior nasopharynx with a saline wash (preferred specimen). Swabs are available from NPHL Client Services. 
  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. Nasopharyngeal wash: sterile container 
  Volume: Minimum of 0.5 mL for nasopharyngeal wash 
  Storage/Transport: Ambient if transport time < 4 hours. Refrigerate, transport in biohazard bag with adsorbent material by NPHL courier. If no courier available, can be transported by FedEx, UPS, or USPS (1st Class, Priority, or Express Mail). Must transport using Biological Substances Catergory B Shipper, insulated with ice/gel pack. Follow appropriate DOT/IATA Regulation Guidelines. For assistance, call NPHL State Training Coordinator at (402) 559-3590. 
  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 Amies Charcoal medium; respiratory aspirates in collection containers with tubing; frozen specimen; improper specimen (i.e., sputum); and specimen in viral transport medium. 
  Specimen Stability: Ambient, 4 hours; refrigerated, 1 day 
  Reference Interval: Negative for Bordetella pertussis 
  Reportable Disease: Positive result is reportable 
  Comments: Consult the laboratory for collection/delivery instructions if transport time is greater than 24 hours. Culture is considered the gold standard test for diagnosing pertussis in children. Culture must be taken from nasopharyngeal specimens collected between 0 to 2 weeks post symptom onset. Adults are rarely positive by culture. The diagnostic sensitivity of culture is < 60% and highly dependent on specimen collection, transportation, and laboratory techniques. Thus a negative culture does not exclude the possibility of B. pertussis infection. 
  Revised: 12/18/2012 


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