The General Virology Laboratory (GVL) is the largest laboratory in the Laboratory of Viral Diseases. A combination of classical and molecular virology techniques are used to detect, type, subtype, and sequence for strain analysis, viruses associated with a variety of disease states. Cultured isolates from other virology laboratories throughout New York State are accepted for identification, as are primary clinical specimens for diagnosis.

A wide range of respiratory viruses are investigated in the GVL using conventional virus culture and modern molecular methods. Testing includes comprehensive surveillance programs, reference testing, respiratory outbreak investigations and cases of severe illness, particularly among return travelers from countries affected by the circulation of avian influenza or MERS coronavirus.  The GVL is a WHO-collaborating laboratory for influenza virus testing and as such participates in extensive surveillance programs sampling both out-patient and hospitalized patient populations. The GVL also performs year-round influenza testing for out-of-season influenza positive confirmations and characterization and also employs a comprehensive influenza antiviral resistance testing program. The laboratory utilizes the GenMark eSensor Respiratory Virus Panel for the investigation of severe respiratory outbreaks or individual cases of severe illness. Molecular serotyping and whole genome sequencing assays are utilized for the epidemiologic tracking of viruses such as enterovirus and adenovirus; serotype data is routinely submitted to respective national databases.


Swab specimens

  • Must be collected and sent in liquid viral transport media
  • Flocked swabs are preferred. Do NOT use cotton or calcium alginate-tipped or wooden shafted swabs
  • Volume: at least 1.0 mL; minimum volume: 0.35 mL

Washes, bronchoalveolar lavage, pleural tap, sputum, tracheal aspirate, and urine

  • Collect in a sterile container. Do NOT add viral transport media
  • Preferred volume: at least 1.0 mL; minimum volume: 0.35 mL


  • Fresh/frozen tissue is preferred. Tissues stored in formalin are discouraged as they are often inhibitory to PCR and produce inconclusive results; submission requires special authorization.


  • Specimens must be shipped overnight (or hand couriered)
  • Specimens should arrive Monday through Friday
  • Specimens must remain cold (on frozen ice packs – NO wet ice) or frozen on dry ice  (suggested minimum weight 2 kg or 5 lbs of dry ice) during shipment and upon arrival in the laboratory
  • Specimens must be accompanied by either a hand written Infectious Disease Form or an electronically generated and printed Remote Order Requisition. If you do not have access, click here.
  • Specimens must be packaged and shipped properly by appropriately trained personnel.
  • Please refer to the following for guidance:
  • Specimens that are sent through UPS, Fed Ex, or other commercial courier services should be sent overnight to the address on the right hand side of the page.