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Bordetella pertussis



Test Usage

PCR – Detection of current/recent infection with Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough).

Serology – Detection of immunity to Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough).


PCR – Nasopharyngeal/Throat Swab – This would be appropriate for testing patients who have had a cough for less than two weeks. Testing is carried out for B pertussis by PCR, and positivity drops off after 5 days of cough. Please state date of onset in clinical details

Serology – Blood sample (serum) – This would be appropriate for testing patients who have had a cough for greater than two weeks.  Please state date of onset in clinical details

Specimen container

PCR – Viral Swab (Green topped MWE Virocult swab / Red topped Copan UTM swab or Blue topped Copan M swab)

Serology – Gold top clotted (5ml)

How To Request On EPIC

For electronic requesting using EPIC (RDUH ONLY):

Search for: ‘Bordetella pertussis (Whooping Cough)‘ or test code ‘O1230200

Special Instructions

Please state time of collection and label with the minimum patient identification. Labelling must include the following:

  • Surname
  • First Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Unique Identifier – NHS Number  (Hospital No)

Please include relevant clinical details and any antimicrobial therapy the patient is taking.

Please state date of onset of symptoms otherwise sample will be stored

Please state if patient is immunocompromised.

Please give history of any contact.


Sent to Reference Laboratory:

PCR: UKHSA South West (Severn Pathology), Bristol

Serology: Respiratory and Vaccine Preventable Bacteria Reference Unit (RVPBRU), UKHSA Colindale, London

Processing Time

1-2 weeks

Urgent Specimen Instructions

Please contact the laboratory to discuss urgent tests and any other relevant tests e.g. pernasal swab culture.

Useful Links

For Patients:

Whooping Cough – NHS

Pertussis – Lab Tests Online UK

For Healthcare Professionals:

Pertussis – Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment | BMJ Best Practice

Pertussis: guidance, data and analysis – UKHSA

Bordetella pertussis Molecular assay (NAAT) | North Bristol NHS Trust

Respiratory and vaccine preventable bacteria reference unit (RVPBRU)


(Sounds Like: Pertussus, Pertassus, Bordatella)

Specimen Labelling Procedure
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