Volume 5, Number 6—December 1999
Specimen Collection for Electron Microscopy
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.