Brief Description

PCR and culture are performed on all specimens received.

PCR is done to detect the presence of a repetitive insertion sequence called IS481 that has been specifically found to be present in up to 100 copies within the genome of Bordetella pertussis.  8-10 copies of this insertion sequence can also be found in Bordetella holmesii.   On rare occasion, a copy of this sequence can also be found in Bordetella bronchiseptica. So these two species may test positive on this PCR.  We use culture to differentiate these two species from B. pertussis.    PCR allows for the ability to notify submitters of a preliminary result for Bordetella examination requests the day the specimens are received.

Culture is done to identify B. pertussisB. parapertussisB. bronchiseptica, and B. holmesii.

Laboratory Unit

Microbiology & Molecular 


Real time PCR for Bordetella pertussis marker IS481 and culture for 4 species of Bordetella.

Specimen Collection

Kits can be ordered from the MSPHL. Kits consist of Regan-Lowe transport, saline transport, styrofoam insulated box, 2 dacron NP swabs, instructions, and a freeze pillow. Specimen submission forms can be printed from this website.


Specimens must be received within 5 days or less from day collected.  Specimens must be shipped cold.  Specimens received more than 5 days in transit or warm, will be considered unsatisfactory for culture.  Be sure to completely close the specimen vials prior to shipment to ensure contents do not leak in transit. 
(See specimen collection instructions)

Acceptable Specimen Type(s)

Acceptable specimens for Bordetella testing include Nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs and NP aspirates. When properly collected, the specimen should sample the ciliated respiratory epithelial cells. Throat, bronchial, and sputum specimens are unacceptable for testing and will marked as unsatisfactory for PCR and culture.

Test Request Form(s)

Possible Results

PCR: Possible PCR results are “Not Found for the IS481 marker” or “Bordetella pertussis marker IS481 found”.

All PCR results are reported with a disclaimer:
Bordetella-Molecular- The PCR test was developed and the performance characteristics were determined by the Missouri State Public Health Lab.  It has not been cleared or approved by the US food and Drug Administration.  Be advised that the target sequence IS481 used in this procedure for Bordetella pertussis may also be present in certain strains of B. holmseii and B. bronchiseptica.

Culture: Can be “Not Found”, or “Found” for Bordetella pertussisB. parapertussisB. holmesii, or B. bronchiseptica

Unacceptable Conditions

The following conditions are considered unsatisfactory for testing:

Specimens that are not labeled with the patient name or identifier

Specimens that are more than 5 days in transit, received warm, sent with expired media, or sent with cotton or large swabs will be considered unsatisfactory for culture if Bordetella is not found.

Throat, bronchial, and sputum specimens.

Interfering Substances


Result Reported

All specimens received before 8:30 a.m. have PCR testing performed that day and the results are called to the submitter if positive PCR results are found. Specimens received after 8:30 a.m. are tested the next day. Culture plates are held up to 10 days.


As provided in 19 CSR 25-38.010, submitters may be charged a handling charge of $10.00 per sample submitted for testing.

CPT Codes




Additional Information