Lab Dept:


Test Name:

RSV Antigen Detection

General Information

Lab Order Codes:



RSV EIA; Respiratory Syncytial Virus Antigen; RSV Rapid Antigen; Rapid RSV

CPT Codes:

87899 – Infectious agent detection by immunoassay with direct observation

Test Includes:

Detection of RSV antigen. This test Does Not include RSV culture. Refer to Viral Respiratory Culture.


Lab Testing Sections:


Phone Numbers:

MIN Lab: 612-813-5806

STP Lab: 651-220-6555

Test Availability:

Daily, 24 hours

Turnaround Time:

2 hours

Special Instructions:

● Requisition must state specific site of specimen and date/time of collection. ● Specimens obtained early in the course of the illness will contain the highest virus titers.
● The use of routine rapid testing is not recommended outside of the respiratory season due to low specificity and sensitivity. Results must be interpreted with caution and confirmation by immunofluorescence assay (IFA), viral culture or PCR is recommended.


Specimen Type:

Nasopharyngeal washings, nasopharyngeal aspirates


Sterile screw cap container; luki tube

Draw Volume:

1 – 2 mL washings or aspirates


Nasopharyngeal Washings:

1. Tilt patient’s head back at a 70° angle. 2. Insert rubber bulb syringe containing 1 – 2 mL of sterile saline until it occludes the nostril. 3. Collect specimen (Minimum: 1 mL) with one complete squeeze and release bulb. 4. Repeat in other nostril. 5. Place washings in container and forward promptly.

Nasal Aspiratation:

1. Prepare suction set up on low to medium suction. 2. Wash hands and put on protective barriers (e.g., gloves, gown, mask). 3. Place child supine and obtain assistant to hold child during procedure. 4. Attach luki tube to suction tubing and #6 French suction catheter. 5. Insert catheter into nostril and pharynx without applying suction. 6. Apply suction as catheter is withdrawn. If necessary, suction 0.5 – 1 mL of normal saline through catheter in order to clear the catheter and increase the amount of specimen in the luki tube.


Special Processing:

Place specimen into viral transport media (M4VTM).


Transport to the Microbiology Lab immediately. Store refrigerated up to 24 hours prior to testing.

Note: If specimen cannot be transported to the laboratory immediately, place 1 - 2 mL of specimen in viral transport media (VTM) and refrigerate.

Sample Rejection:

Specimen with a transit time exceeding 4 hours after collection; specimen not submitted in appropriate transport container; improperly labeled specimen; insufficient volume; external contamination. If an unacceptable specimen is received, the physician or nursing station will be notified and another specimen will be requested before the specimen is discarded.


Reference Range:

No RSV antigen detected.


● The etiology of respiratory infection caused by microorganisms other than RSV will not be established with this test. ● Inadequate specimen collection, improper sample handling/transport or low levels of virus shedding may yield a false negative result.
● A negative result does not eliminate the possibility of RSV infection.


Immunochromatographic Assay

Additional Information:

Culture confirmation of negative samples is recommended.


Cook, JH, and M Pezzlo (1992). Specimen receipt and accessioning. Section 1. Aerobic bacteriology, 1.2.1-4. In HD Isenberg (ed) Clinical Microbiology Procedures Handbook. American Society for Microbiology, Washington DC

Miller, J Michael (1999) A Guide To Specimen Management in Clinical Microbiology, American Society for Microbiology, Washington DC

Miller, J Michael, and HT Holmes (1999) Specimen Collection, Transport, and Storage In PR Murray et al, (ed), Manual of Clinical Microbiology, 7th edition, American Society for Microbiology, Washington DC, pg 33-104

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (2015) Centers for Disease Control, 20 April, 2015.