A Viral culture is a laboratory test in which the virus samples are placed with a cell medium that the virus being tested for is able to infect. If the cells show changes, known as cytopathic effects, then a culture is positive, meaning the test indicates infection.
The older way of viral culture has been replaced by shell vial culture, in which the sample is spun onto a single layer of cells and viral growth is measured by antigen detection ways. This shortens the time to detection for slow growing viruses such as cytomegalovirus, for which the method was developed.
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