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Bird Flu? Trust Virocult®, the Superior Transport System for Influenza A and all other Respiratory Viruses


The current concern about the spread of the bird flu virus Influenza A H5N1 has highlighted the need for accurate diagnosis and reporting of viral respiratory diseases. As with all infectious disease, the quality of the information generated is dependent not only upon the skills of the laboratory staff in handling the specimen, and also on the collection and transport of an adequate specimen. With the increasing centralisation of virology laboratory services, it is essential that the methods for handling virology specimens are effective and reliable. Some laboratories issue their own vials of virus transport medium, but staff shortages, health and safety issues, and the short shelf life of the medium are making this practice difficult to sustain. Many healthcare facilities now have to obtain their own virus transport devices.

For many years M W & E's Virocult® has been a reliable specimen collection and transport device for the investigation of respiratory diseases. Virocult® is a swab transport device consisting of a rayon-budded swab in its own cap/holder and a transport tube of liquid virus transport medium. The virus transport medium contains antibiotics to inhibit any growth of bacteria or fungi.

The transport tube is long enough to take the whole swab so there is no need to cut or snap the swab, thus avoiding any delay in immersing the bud in the virus transport medium, and minimising any hazard to the medical staff. The virus transport medium is contained within a small sponge at the bottom of the tube, which prevents the liquid splashing around and drying out, and further reduces any possible hazard. When the swab has been placed in the transport tube, it rests on the sponge, and simply squeezing the end of the tube around the sponge ensures complete wetting of the bud with virus transport medium.

Early trials showed Virocult® to be suitable for Influenza A viruses, with virus being detectable even after tubes had been held for 10 days at ambient temperatures. Good results were also obtained when tubes were held on dry ice (-70°C). Virocult® has also been shown to work well for other respiratory viruses such as adenovirus, rhinovirus, parainfluenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and corona virus.

In addition to being reliable for respiratory viruses Virocult®, is also successfully used for skin infections, sexually transmitted viruses, such as herpes simplex virus, and enteric viruses. Although originally developed for use in traditional cell-culture based methods of virus detection, including haemadsorption, it is also suitable for use with the newer molecular techniques such as immunofluorescence, ELISA, and PCR.

A new report from the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Virus Reference and Research in France reported Virocult ® being successfully used in the evaluation of a new molecular diagnostic kit for Influenza A & B. In the trial, Virocult® successfully recovered influenza viruses, adenovirus, echovirus, parainfluenza virus, rhinovrus and RSV, but did not interfere with the subsequent molecular test for Influenza A & B.

Virocult® is available in three formats. The standard version has a plastic shaft swab with standard rayon bud suitable for most applications. The two minitip swab versions have either a straight wire or twisted wire shaft with small rayon buds and are particularly suited for urethral sampling. The twisted wire minitip version is also suitable for nasopharyngeal specimens, and is recommended for RSV.

Virocult® is CE-marked as a Class IIa sterile medical device.

Full details available from

1. Chapin, K.C., & F.W. Westenfeld, 2003, Reagents, Stains, Media, and Cell Lines: Virology, p.1250 in Murray P.R., E.J. Baron, J.H. Jorgensen, M.A. Pfaller, & R.H. Yolken, 2003, Manual of Clinical Microbiology, 8th Edition, ASM Press, Washington D.C.
2. Johnso n F. B., Transport of Viral Specimens, p. 120 - 131. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, Vol. 3, No. 2, April 1990.
3. Jensen, C., and F.B. Johnson, 1994. Comparison of Various Transport Media for Viability Maintenance of Herpes Simplex Virus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and Adenovirus. Diagn. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 19: 137-142
4. Perez, T.R., P.L Mosman, and S.V. Juchau. 1984. Experience with Virocult as a viral collection and transport system. Diagn. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 2:7-9
5. Schmutzhard, J., H. M. Riedel, B. Zweygberg Wirgart, and l. Grillner, 2004. Detection of herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2 and varicella-zoster virus in skin lesions. Comparison of real-time PCR, nested PCR and virus isolation. J. Clinical Virology 29:120-126
6. Lina, B., M. Valette, S. Foray, J. Luciani, J. Stagnara, D.M. See, and M. Aymard, 1996, Surveillance of Community-Acquired Viral Infections Due to Respiratory Viruses in Rhone-Alpes (France) during Winter 1994 to1 995. J. Clinical Microbiology, 34, 3007-3011
7. Layani-Milon, M., I. Gras, M. Valette, J. Luciani, J. Stagnara, M. Aymard and B. Lina, 1999, Incidence of upper respiratory tract Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections among outpatients in Rhone-Alpes, France, during five successive winter periods. J. Clinical Microbiology, 36, 1721-1726

NOTE: This item is from our 'historic' database and may contain information which is not up to date.

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Posted on November 3, 2005

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