The Viral Isolation Team at the Texas Department of State Health Services identifies viruses in both patient and reference specimens submitted by physicians, hospitals, or other laboratories. Specimens may be submitted for diagnostic, reference, or surveillance testing. The laboratory receives approximately 2500 specimens annually from across the state of Texas for virus isolation studies. In addition, the laboratory serves as a referee laboratory for the New York State Virus Isolation Proficiency Program.
Most specimens for virus isolation are tested by cell culture methods, including both standard tube culture and shell vial, where appropriate. In addition, specimens may be evaluated by electron microscopy for direct detection of viruses in the specimen. Molecular detection methods are also used for certain viruses. Identification methods include fluorescent antibody testing, PCR, hemagglutination inhibition, and electron microscopy.