A comprehensive virology service is provided by the Newcastle Hospitals Microbiology Department. The service includes availability of clinical virology advice as well as laboratory diagnostic services.
Virology is a rapidly evolving field. Recent years have seen massive advances in our ability to diagnose, treat and prevent viral infections; add to this the discovery of new viral pathogens and emerging viral threats worldwide and virology can be seen as one of the most dynamic areas of modern medicine.
The serology and molecular laboratories in Newcastle together provide a comprehensive viral diagnostic service. They provide either individual assays or panels designed to detect a range of pathogens depending on sample type or clinical features. Our portfolio of diagnostic assays and testing algorithms are constantly reviewed and updated to ensure we offer the best service in line with recent advances in the specialty.
Clinical Virology and Advice
We have a team of three consultant clinical virologists (2.8 whole time equivalent) together with trainees. The team provides clinical advice to Doctors and other Health Care Professionals on all aspects of virology, including diagnosis, management and prevention of viral infections, and vaccination.
Where urgent clinical advice is required out-of-hours we run an on-call service jointly with virologists based at Leeds General Infirmary.
Please note that we regret that we cannot offer advice directly to members of the public, who should contact their healthcare provider.
Changes to respiratory testing for winter 2018-19
Please note there have been changes to respiratory viral testing and ordering.
Standard testing for most patients is an ‘Influenza/RSV screen’. This includes tests for Influenza A, Influenza B and RSV.
For patients who are immunocompromised or require intensive case an ‘Extended viral respiratory screen’ can be ordered if indicated (see below link).
Top Tips on getting the most out of the Virology laboratory
Give full clinical details including any relevant travel history and the date of onset of symptoms. This will allow our laboratory staff to ensure that the correct tests are selected and that the results can be interpreted correctly.
Send the most appropriate sample types and test requests. This is the most important step to ensure that we have the best chance of answering your diagnostic question. The range of potential viral infections and diagnostic tests can be confusing. Details of test and sample types are included in the test directory . If in doubt please contact the virology team.
A sample from the site of infection if possible is often more useful than a serology (antibody) test in blood. For example CSF in encephalitis, viral lesion swab for a vesicular rash.
Please use a specific viral swab when sending lesion swabs or respiratory swabs for virology. Charcoal swabs for bacteriology are not suitable for virology. If a virology swab is not available use a plain swab and break off into a sterile universal container with approximately 0.5ml sterile saline
If in doubt, ask! Advice is available from the laboratory, clinical virologists and microbiologists.