Lab Test

Antigen, Rotavirus

Rotavirus Antigen Test

Test Codes





Obtain specimens during the acute phase of the illness (within 8 days of disease onset).

Specimen Collection Criteria

Collect (preferred specimen): Fresh, random stool specimen in a sterile collection container.

Also acceptable: Rectal swab specimen in a sterile collection container. Place swab into a sterile collection container, do NOT place swab into any transport media (ESwab, UVT, M4, etc).

Do not submit diapers for any lab tests.

Physician Office/Draw Specimen Preparation

Specimen should be refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F) prior to courier transport.

Preparation for Courier Transport

Transport: Stool specimen or rectal swab in a sterile collection container, refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F).

Rejection Criteria

  • Collection containers with preservatives or metal ions.
  • Specimens submitted in diapers.
  • Specimens submitted in pill bottles, containers intended or used for food, or containers with wax lining.
  • Rectal swabs without visible fecal matter on the swab.
  • Rectal swabs placed in ESwab, UVT, M4 or other transport media.

In-Lab Processing

Maintain refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F) prior to testing.


Specimen Stability for Testing:

Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): Unknown
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 72 hours
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): 30 days

Specimen Storage in Department Prior to Disposal:

Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 7 days


Dearborn Microbiology Laboratory
Taylor, Trenton and Wayne sent to Dearborn Microbiology Laboratory for testing.

Royal Oak Microbiology Laboratory
Farmington Hills, Grosse Pointe, and Troy sent to Royal Oak Microbiology Laboratory for testing.


Sunday – Saturday, 24 hours a day.
Results available within 24 hours.

Reference Range


Test Methodology



Specimens should be collected during the acute phase of the illness when the greatest amount of rotavirus shedding occurs. As the illness progresses, the virus shedding decreases, thus decreasing the amount of detectable virus. Samples collected 8 days or more after the onset of symptoms may not contain enough antigen to produce a positive reaction.

Limit of detection in stool specimens is 1.8 – 3.7 x 106 rotavirus particles per test volume. 

Clinical Utility

This test aids in the diagnosis of rotavirus infections.

Clinical Disease

Rotaviruses are the principal cause of severe diarrheal illness of infants and young children worldwide. In the United States, rotaviruses are responsible for one-third of all hospitalizations for diarrhea in children under 5 years of age. Although diarrheal diseases are not a predominant cause of mortality in the United States, (approximately 500 deaths/year), the toll from diarrheal diseases in developing countries is staggering (5-18 million deaths/year). Rotavirus diarrhea occurs in all age groups with peak occurrences in children 6-24 months of age. This age group typically experiences an abrupt onset of explosive, watery diarrhea that lasts for 5-8 days. Diarrhea may be preceded by vomiting for 1-3 days. Other common clinical features include isotonic dehydration, compensated metabolic acidosis, and low-grade fever (1).


Rotavirus infections occur throughout the year. In temperate climates sharp seasonal outbreaks occur each winter (November- April). Infants less than 3 months and adults often have only mild symptoms. Nosocomial infections occur frequently (1).

Incubation Period

The mean incubation period is 2 days with a range of 1-3 days. Following infection, patients are infectious from 1 day before, to 8-10 days after, the onset of symptoms. Immunocompromised patients may shed virus for 2-3 weeks (1).


Rotavirus is highly contagious and transmission occurs predominantly though the fecal-oral route. Waterborne outbreaks are infrequently reported. Although rotaviruses have been detected in respiratory tract secretions, respiratory transmission has not been proven (1).


  1. Pang, X. and X. Jiang, 2011. Gastroenteritis Viruses. Manual of Clinical Microbiology, 10th edition. Versalovic, J. et al. (eds.), ASM Press, Washington, D.C.

CPT Codes



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