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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: Culture, identification  
  Availability: Daily; results within 7 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.
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: Prior to and during shipment: Ambient 15-25°C; if transport time < 4 h. 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 ambient or 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 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 15-25°C, 4 h; refrigerated, 1 day  
  Reference Interval: Negative for Bordetella pertussis
  Reportable Disease: Positive result should be immediately reported to local and state health department 
  Comments: See for NP or Wash Collection Protocol
Consult the laboratory for collection/delivery instructions if transport time > than 24 h. 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: 12/11/2018 


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