The New Zealand Microbiology Network releases Position Statements concerning important issues in diagnostic microbiology.



Inclusion of clinical details on request forms

This document describes why the NZMN supports the inclusion of brief but appropriate clincal details on request forms for microbiology samples submitted to diagnostic laboratories.

 NZMN clinical details position statement [PDF, 447 KB]


STI screening in asymptomatic patients during cervical smear examination.

Laboratory screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is often performed routinely as part of a cervical smear examination. This position outlines the potential risks of such an approach, and how such testing should only be performed where clear risk factors are present.

NZMN position statement STI testing cervical smear [PDF, 243 KB]


Laboratory processing of vaginal swabs in asymptomatic patients.

Laboratory processing of vaginal swabs is generally of little value in patients who are asymptomatic, or where the clinical history is unknown. Such practice may give misleading results, which in turn leads to inappropriate treatment. This position statement outlines the details and potential exceptions around such a policy.

NZMN position statement laboratory processing vaginal swabs [PDF, 295 KB]



Responsibilities of the reference and referring laboratory

Communication guidelines for laboratories referring or receiving clinical specimens for diagnostic testing.

Responsibilities of the reference and referring laboratories [PDF, 416 KB]


NZMN position statement on Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) for SARS CoV-2 in Aotearoa New Zealand


Executive summary

  • Rapid antigen tests (RAT) have lower sensitivity compared to nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) and can only reliably detect people with high viral load
  • RAT are not suited to high throughput usage, and do not replace the need for increased laboratory-based NAAT capacity during periods of high demand, but may have a complementary role under defined circumstances
  • The main benefit of RAT is fast turnaround time, which becomes most relevant during periods of high demand if NAAT turnaround times become prolonged
  • Symptomatic people require NAAT in addition to RAT in the current New Zealand context
  • All positive RAT require confirmation by NAAT in the current New Zealand context
  • Appropriate training, ongoing quality assurance, clinical oversight and result reporting mechanisms must be well-established prior to any RAT programme rollout

The full position statement is available here [PDF, 228 KB]

NZMN updated position statement on saliva testing for SARS CoV-2 in New Zealand (September 2021)

Summary of recommendations

  • Nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) are the preferred sample type for detection of SARS-CoV-2 by Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT), for high-risk scenarios (eg. high index of suspicion cases and contact screening). A combined anterior nares & throat swab or a saliva sample for NAAT are acceptable alternatives.
  • Asymptomatic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 requires appropriate frequency of testing whether by saliva or NPS NAAT. Saliva may improve acceptability of more frequent testing.
  • The overall performance of a system of asymptomatic surveillance, including access to and frequency of testing, and actions taken on results of testing, are more important components of a screening regimen than the sample type used for NAAT.
  • Clinical microbiologist oversight, robust processes for timely reporting of results to relevant stakeholders, appropriate validation/verification, quality assurance and IANZ accreditation are required as for all diagnostic tests.

The full position statement is available here [PDF, 354 KB]

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