Microbiology – Virology

Medical Microbiology is a branch of medicine and Microbiology which deals with the study of micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites). The laboratory aspect of medical Microbiology is involved in diagnosis of infection caused by bacteria, fungi and parasites; identification of the best treatment options for infection; and the monitoring of antibiotic resistance. It also includes testing for how well a patient is responding to treatment of infection. Consultant Microbiologists also spend a lot of time on the wards, seeing patients and advising clinical and laboratory colleagues on the investigation and treatment of all types of infection.


What is Virology?

The virology laboratory tests a range of specimens including urine, blood, CSF and swabs. These specimens are analysed using modern diagnostic techniques including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which utilises DNA replication methods and ELISA which takes advantage of specific antigen/antibody interactions.

Microbiology - Virology Department, Staff member workingMicrobiology - Virology Department, equipment in the lab.







How important is Virology?

The history of Virology as a separate discipline is rather short. It was the work of Edward Jenner in the 1700s which demonstrated the infectious nature of these mysterious agents when he used the material from cowpox to generate a vaccine against smallpox.

The immune response takes approximately two weeks to produce IgM antibodies. However, the technology to recognise these agents did not exist until recent years. Historically therefore, if these tests were performed soon after infection a number of false negative results would have been reported.

Molecular methods now allow us to diagnose many diseases with much more accuracy; this is a huge turning point for virology and historically will remain the main focus of this discipline for many years to come.

The Microbiology Department is a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No 8868. We are fully accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to the internationally recognised ISO 15189:2012 standards.

Microbiology - Virology Department Equipment
Microbiology - Virology Department Equipment

This is a scientific service staffed by highly qualified Clinical Scientists and Biomedical Scientists assisted by Medical Laboratory Assistants.

Quality Assurance

The laboratory takes part in National External Quality Assessment schemes. Samples are sent from a reference laboratory for examination; we perform the tests and return the results. Our performance is compared nationally with the other laboratories in the scheme and also with previous work carried out by us. This gives confidence that our results are not varying over time and that they are similar to those obtained from other laboratories.

Internal Quality Control (IQC) is a means of checking that results are reliable before being issued. IQC is routinely performed and constantly reviewed.

The laboratory is regularly assessed by UKAS. This ensures that the laboratory provides a high quality service to defined standards. Accreditation provides confidence to the user and patient that standards set by UKAS are achieved and maintained.

Laboratory Location and Working Hours

The Virology Laboratory is located on the second floor of the Pathology Department.

This is identified as Area 2 on the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals site map.

Core hours:

Monday – Friday,  8.45am to 5.00pm.