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Meningococcal & Pneumococcal PCR

Alias: Meningitis, Septicaemia, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis

Discipline: Virology

Test information: Molecular detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae and or Neisseria meningitidis in blood and CSF (where available). This assay is used in the detection of both systemic infection and meningitis. Remember to also collect blood cultures and a throat swab for bacteriology and label these clearly for meningococcal / pneumococcal investigation. For severe pneumococcal disease a pneumococcal urinary antigen test may be of value.

Availability: Referred to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Meningococcal Reference Unit Manchester: Monday - Friday during routine hours: 08:45 - 17:15.

Turnaround Time: 2 Days upon receipt at UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Meningococcal Reference Unit Manchester

Related Tests:

Specimen Type(s)
  • Blood;
  • Cerebrospinal fluid;
  • EDTA Whole Blood;
Other Acceptable Specimen Type(s)
Where a CSF sample is available, this should be sent in addition to an EDTA blood sample.
Specimen Container - Adult
  • Purple Top BD;
  • Sterile CE-marked Universal Container;
Specimen Container - Paediatric
  • Purple Top Microtainer BD;
  • Sterile CE-marked Universal Container;
  • Neisseria meningitidis DNA;
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae DNA;
Part of a test profile?
Volume (min) of sample to be sent to laboratory
A minimum of 400 uL (0.4 mL) of fluid is required for extraction without dilution. Smaller volumes will be diluted as required and resulting in reduced detection sensitivity. Greater volumes (up to 2 mL) are preferred to allow repeat testing.
Patient Preparation, Sample Handling and Transport
  • Specimens should be transported to the laboratory as soon as possible.
  • Outside of normal hours samples should be refrigerated (2 °C to 4 °C).
  • It is recommended that samples are collected less than 48 hours following disease onset, admission to hospital or administration of antibiotics. The likelihood of a positive PCR result decreases with time following antimicrobial administration.
  • Blood samples for PCR taken more than 48 hours after commencement of antibiotic therapy are unlikely to remain positive, however, CSF may remain positive for longer periods.
Maximum add on time
Units and Reference Ranges / Interpretation
Results: Negative / Positive
Please note a negative PCR result does not exclude Meningococcal / Pneumococcal disease.
UKAS number
UKAS accredited test?

If you have any queries about a test or results interpretation please contact us.

Last updated: 03-06-2023