Laboratory Services

Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis, Molecular Detection, PCR, Varies

Print this page

Updated Test Information:

Test Description
Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis, Molecular Detection, PCR, Varies

Bordetella pertussis and parapertussis; Parapertussis; PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction); Pertussis; Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR); Whooping Cough; Bordetella parapertussis by PCR; Bordetella parapertussis by Rapid PCR; Bordetella pertussis Detection by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

Test ID
General Information

Useful for detection of Bordetella pertussis or Bordetella parapertussis

Container Type


  • Rayon swab with an aluminum shaft placed in transport medium such as a green-top nasopharyngeal swab (rayon mini-tip) with Stuart's media (no charcoal) (T515)

  • Stuart's with charcoal

  • Amies with or without charcoal (Transwab Nasopharyngeal with Charcoal System).


  • Sterile container with a screw top cap (no transport media)

Specimen Type

  • Acceptable: Nasopharyngeal Swab

  • Acceptable: Nasopharyngeal (not throat) aspirate/wash

  • Acceptable: Nasal aspirate/wash

Specimen Requirements

(Rayon Mini-Tip Swab)

Specimen Collection / Processing Instructions


  • Tilt patient's head back slightly to straighten nasal passage

  • Insert swab straight back horizontally to the nasopharynx until resistance is met

  • Rotate swab up to 5 times and hold in place 5-10 seconds to collect sample

  • Place swab into the transport medium and cap tightly

  • Label with patient name and one other unique identifier

  • Refrigerate specimen until ready for transport to the lab.

Additional Processing Details

The high sensitivity of amplification by PCR requires the specimen to be processed in an environment in which
contamination of the specimen by Bordetella pertussis or Bordetella parapertussis DNA is unlikely.

Required Information

Specimen source is required


  • Refrigerated (preferred): 7 days

  • Ambient: 7 days

  • Frozen: 7 days

Unacceptable Specimen Conditions

  • Other nose, nasal, or throat swab

  • calcium alginate or cottontipped swab

  • swab sent in gel transport medium, viral/universal transport medium, or Regan Lowe media

  • ESwab

  • swabs with solid plastic shaft

  • dry swab


  • Cross-reactivity with Bordetella holmesii may occur with the B pertussis PCR assay. The prevalence of B holmesii is relatively low, with positivity in <1% of nasopharyngeal swabs.(2) Please note that B holmesii has been associated with pertussis-like symptoms (2)

  • Cross-reactivity of the B pertussis assay has been demonstrated with a limited number of Bordetella bronchiseptica isolates. The prevalence of the insertion sequence target, IS481, has been reported to be between 1% and 5% in B bronchiseptica isolates

  • This assay is not recommended for screening asymptomatic individuals who may carry B pertussis or parapertussis

  • This assay is not recommended for follow up of patients previously diagnosed with pertussis (ie, as a test of cure)

  • Some B pertussis acellular vaccines (ie, Pentacel, Daptacel, Adacel) contain PCR detectable DNA. Contamination of specimens with vaccine can cause false-positive B pertussis PCR results. Specimens should not be collected or processed in areas that are exposed to B pertussis vaccine material


Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)/DNA Probe Hybridization

Estimated TAT

1-3 days

Testing Schedule

Monday-Friday, Sunday

Test Includes

  • Specimen source

  • Bordetella pertussis PCR

  • Bordetella parapertussis PCR


3 days

CPT Code(s)


Additional Information
Minimum Sample Volume

0.5 mL

Performing Lab


LOINC Code(s)

31208-2, 43913-3, 42588-4