Viral Cultures
(Flu Tests)

Alternate Names

  • Flu Test
  • Rapid Flu Test
  • Influenza Antigen Test
  • Influenza A
  • Influenza B

Doctors may find it difficult to determine whether an upper respiratory tract infection is caused by a bacteria or virus. Viral Cultures take a throat, skin, stool, blood, or urine sample, and culture it in the lab in order to determine the specific virus that is causing the illness. Viruses that may be identified are: Influenza A (flu), Epstein-Barr (mononucleosis); adenovirus or parvovirus (upper respiratory infection, skin rash); arbovirus cytomegalovirus, enterovirus, or herpes (encephalitis, meningitis); coxsackie, rubeola, rubella, or varicella (chicken pox, shingles, measles, German measles); adenovirus, influenza, rhinovirus, or RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) (sore throat, flu, pneumonia). Test results take between three and seven days to return from the lab.

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