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NC Department of Health and Human Services
State Laboratory of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

Molecular Epidemiology: Norovirus

NCSLPH tests for norovirus (NV) during outbreak situations only. Local health departments should contact the N.C. Communicable Disease Branch (CDB) epidemiologists (919-733-3419) of the North Carolina Division of Public Health when enteric disease outbreaks are suspected in a day care center, nursing home, or restaurant.

Specimen Submission

To ensure that the event is eligible for outbreak investigation and testing, contact the Communicable Disease Branch (CDB) epidemiologists (919-733-3419) for approval. After approval by the CDB epidemiologists, submit one stool specimen for each patient from at least five, but no more than ten outbreak associated patients and request NV testing, using the DHHS form 3390 (PDF, 159 KB), Enteric Bacteriology. For NV testing, stool specimens should be submitted in commercially available enteric transport medium such as Cary-Blair Transport Medium, ETM™, or Para-Pak® Enteric Plus Transport System. (Note: Cary-Blair transport medium for collection of feces may also be purchased from the laboratory mailroom on-line at

  • Please submit a minimum of five and no more than ten specimens per CDB-approved outbreak for testing. Testing will not be performed for submissions of less than five specimens. Hold stool specimens at 4C until at least five stool specimens have been collected. Specimens can be maintained at 4ºC for 3-5 days until shipped. NV testing will be performed within two business days of receipt. Results will be reported to CDB and the local health department within two business days of receipt of five specimens via the Epi Situational Report (SitRep) email. Only the number of positive specimens will be reported. No individual patient results will be provided, as norovirus testing is for epidemiologic purposes only.
  • For specimens that may be tested for both enteric microorganisms and norovirus, the specimen shipment should occur within 24 hours of collection. Specimens submitted in enteric transport medium will be tested for the presence of NV first. If NV is not detected in any of the outbreak specimens and enteric testing is requested, the specimens will be screened for enteric microorganisms.
  • Specimens submitted without the approval by CDB will not be tested.

To ship specimens to the NCSLPH, place completed Enteric Bacteriology DHHS form 3390 (PDF, 324 KB), one form for each specimen, in the outer container to avoid contamination in case of breakage or leakage. Follow all relevant packaging and shipping requirements. Unlabeled specimens will not be tested.

See also: Microbiology

Molecular Epidemiology Information