Background: In recent years significant advances in the laboratory diagnostics available to detect respiratory viral infections have been achieved.
Methods: This article presents the types of diagnostic methods currently available to the practitioner, as well as those on the horizon. The article covers tissue culture, serology and direct examination as well as some rapid diagnostic techniques and molecular assays, previewing developing new technology.
Conclusions: Laboratory diagnosis will likely be clinically useful in some but not all cases of viral infection. As new diagnostic methods become widely available, it is increasingly important to develop guidelines for laboratory testing when viral illness is suspected.