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Influenza Virus Culture Submission Procedures for Physicians and Laboratories Not Enrolled in the Influenza Sentinel Program

The Bureau of Laboratories (BOL) will provide collections kits and prepaid shipping containers upon request from a physician or laboratory. Physicians and laboratories may use their own collection kits and mailers if they do not have BOL supplies on hand. Collect a nasal, nasopharyngeal, or throat specimen using a standard viral culturette or a sterile swab placed in viral transport medium. Fill out a Specimen Submission Form completely. Age, county of residence, sex and date of collection are required. Put the patient name/ID on the specimen Please be sure that the identification information of the specimen and the Form are identical. Wrap the specimen with absorbent material, e.g., paper towels, and place it into the main compartment of the biohazard bag (one per bag) then seal the zip-lock. Place the Specimen Submission Form into the outer slot of the bag.

Do not place the Specimen Submission Form in the compartment with the specimen.

Refrigerate the specimen at 2-8°C until transport to the BOL.

Ship specimens as soon as possible after collection (within 48 hours). Specimens must be kept cold until they reach the laboratory. Refrigerate specimens if they will not be shipped immediately. Ship specimens in an insulated (Styrofoam) container with cold packs (frozen before shipment). Do not use wet ice (ice cubes or crushed ice).

Ship specimens to:

Pennsylvania Department of Health
Bureau of Laboratories
110 Pickering Way
Exton, PA 19341-1310

Please print your return address on the label.

If you have any questions, please contact Maria Strohecker at 484-870-6289, or by e-mail at