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Volume 5, Number 6—December 1999


Specimen Collection for Electron Microscopy

Suggested citation for this article

To the Editor: We read with interest the excellent article "Smallpox: an attack scenario," by Tara O'Toole (1). At a critical point in the scenario, the author states, "The infectious disease specialist takes a swab specimen from the … skin lesions… and requests that it be examined by an experienced technician…. electron microscopy shows an orthopoxvirus consistent with variola." In fact, swab specimens of skin lesions for the detection by electron microscopy of viruses such as pox and herpes viruses are far from ideal; the chances of viral detection would be greatly enhanced if a skin scraping were provided to the electron microscopist.

J.A. Marshall and M.G. Catton

Author affiliations: Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, North Melbourne, Australia


  1. O'Toole T. Smallpox: an attack scenario. Emerg Infect Dis. 1999;5:5406. DOIPubMed

Suggested citation: Marshall JA, Catton MG. Specimen Collection for Electron Microscopy [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 1999, Dec [date cited]. Available from

DOI: 10.3201/eid0506.990626

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Table of Contents – Volume 5, Number 6—December 1999