Bordetella pertussis DNA Detection
Order in NUlirt or complete NPHL Test Order Form


Whooping Cough (Pertussis) by qualitative PCR


Real-Time DNA Amplification


Monday - Friday. Results in 1-2d


Nasopharyngeal swab
Nasopharyngeal wash

Note source of specimen on lab order form.

  Collection Device:

Copan FLOQ swab or Nasopharyngeal swab collected in universal transport medium. Acceptable examples of universal transport are BD UVT, Remel M4, Remel M4RT, Remel M5, Remel M6, UTM (universal transport media) and Liquid Aimes (ESwab) transport media.
(Note: B. Pertussis culture must be submitted on separate Amies medium with charcoal.  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


Swab or minimum of 0.5 mL for nasopharyngeal wash 


Prior to and during shipment:  Refrigerate 2-8°C 
Shipping instructions, including specimen-handling requirements during transport:  Seal screw-top tubes with Parafilm™ or tape and place in biohazard bag with absorbent material.
Ship in insulated box on frozen gel-packs. Place packing list or other paperwork on top of Styrofoam and lid. Mark out rigid box as UN3373 Category B, Biological Substance. Transport by NPHL ground courier. If courier not available, ship by FedEx, UPS or USPS (1st Class, Priority or Express Mail). Follow appropriate DOT/IATA Regulation Guidelines.  For assistance, call NPHL State Training Coordinator at (402) 559-3590.  
See instructions and shipping address: http://nphl.org
NUlirt packing list or appropriate paperwork (completed in entirety) must accompany specimens.


Calcium alginate and Charcoal swabs are unacceptable.  Avoid specimens collected with a bacterial culturette swab used traditionally for Beta strep throat screens.  Use swab provided wtih UTM packaging.

  Specimen Stability:

Stable at Refrigerated temperature 2-8°C for up to 7d post collection

  Reference Interval:

Negative for Bordetella pertussis

  Reportable Disease:

Positive results are reported to local or state health department. Refer to Nebraska DHHS Title 173, Communicable Diseases.


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.
B. pertussis is the causative agent of whooping cough, while B. parapertussis causes a similar clinical illness characterized by milder symptoms and a shorter symptom duration. Detection of Bordetella can be difficult, particularly later in the clinical course. In order to detect B. pertussis with high analytical sensitivity, the test targets IS481, which is present in large numbers in B. pertussis. IS481 is also present in B. holmesii and some B. bronchiseptica strains, so cross reactivity amongst these species may occur. B. holmesii and B. bronchiseptica are uncommon human pathogens

  Revised: 3/21/2021