Submitting Specimens to CDC
Help & FAQ's
Here are some important DO's and DON'T's that highlight common errors we are seeing users make in our first few weeks with the new 50.34 Submission Form. Please take a look.
If you have a question and don't see it here, scroll down to the FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) below. If you still don't have your answer, email or call the Infectious Diseases Specimen Submission (IDSS) Help Desk located on this site below the DO's and DON'T's table.
The Infectious Diseases Specimen Submission (IDSS) Help Desk serves as the central point of contact for submitters of specimens who have questions or issues related to submitting specimens to CDC, including completing and submitting the Specimen Submission Form (Form 50.34) and using the test directory for selecting specific test orders. Questions regarding the detailed information contained within a test order should be addressed to the contact person listed for that test order.
Contact Us at:
- Email: CDC_ID_lab_info@cdc.gov
- Phone (Toll free): 1-855-612-7575
- The IDSS Help Desk hours of operation are: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday; closed on federal holidays.
CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 General Information
Can I submit more than one specimen using a single CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34?
A completed 50.34 CDC Specimen Submission Form must be supplied with each specimen received at CDC (i.e., one specimen per form). If a submitter is sending in a large number of specimens, the submitter may work with a CDC lab to submit specimens using a batch form.
Is there a version number with which we can distinguish the new form from the old form? Both are currently labeled CDC Form 50.34.
Yes, the new form may be distinguished from the old version of Form 50.34, by the version number and expiration date at the bottom of the form. The form will be reviewed every six months for updates at which time it will receive a new version number and expiration date. The updated CDC 50.34 form replaces the green DASH form which is obsolete as of February 4, 2013.
Have the state epidemiologists been notified about the new form?
A notification about the new form was posted on EpiX and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) have been contacted. CSTE is targeting communications through their Infectious Diseases committees.
If we are receiving specimens from hospital laboratories, whose responsibility is it to notify them about the new form?
Both the State Public Health Laboratories and the CDC laboratories should educate submitters that a new form is required for submissions. Announcements were posted to the ASM list serves (DivC and ClinMicroNet) to inform the clinical laboratories about the new CDC submission form and to contact their State Public Health Laboratories if they are authorized to send specimens directly to CDC. Hospital laboratories should not download a copy of the form from the internet but should obtain a form that has been pre-populated with the standardized State PHL submitter information to ensure expedited reporting of results.
If hospitals send specimens directly to CDC, will the results go to the state laboratory or will it go to the submitting hospital?
Hospitals should not send their specimens directly to CDC unless the State PHL authorizes this for a special study or outbreak or urgent request. If a specimen or isolate is labile, then sending it directly to CDC may be necessary. If a State PHL wants a clinical laboratory to submit their specimen directly, the State PHL should fill out their contact information and standardized institution email address on the form and provide this as a template to the clinical lab to use. That contact information will ensure results get sent back to the State PHL, who can capture this data and then the State PHL can send the results back to the clinical laboratory. A State PHL can provide this template once for clinical labs to use until the form expires.
Will supplemental forms such as the Dengue form be deleted from the CDC pages so only the new form is used?
No, you should send both forms with your specimen. Laboratory-specific forms are needed by some CDC laboratories in addition to CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 to perform certain tests. When those test orders are selected on the CDC 50.34, a link will appear as a reminder that an additional form or approval is required.
If the submitter has printed a form and finds that information needs to change on one side of the form, is it okay to reprint only the page where the information is updated?
Submitters must reprint both pages of the form to ensure that the updated information gets encoded into the appropriate barcode(s), and to ensure the linkage between the barcodes is maintained.
Downloading the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34
When I click on the link to download the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34, it opens in my browser. Can I fill it out and print it directly from the website?
Not always. In order to ensure that the form functions properly, you must first save the form to your hard drive and reopen it using Adobe Reader® or Adobe Acrobat. When the form is opened in the website, you may actually be viewing it using a non-Adobe product, such as Safari Reader, CutePDF, XPDF, PDFXChange, Foxit Reader, or one of the other myriad applications on the market available to view PDF files. The form was designed using Adobe products and has been tested to work using Adobe products such Adobe Reader® X or later and Adobe Acrobat Pro. Adobe Reader® is available to download for free at the Adobe website www.adobe.com/products/reader.html.
What version of Adobe® is required to complete and print the form?
Adobe® Reader IX and above may be used to complete and print the form, though it is recommended to use the latest version available.
Are data transmitted electronically through the form?
No. The CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 is designed to be filled out electronically, printed and sent to CDC along with a sample. The CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 should not be sent via unsecure email because of PII data.
Can the Epidemiology group see the completed DASH forms, or are only laboratory personnel given access?
Completed specimen submission forms (the 50.34 form will no longer be known as the DASH form) are available to the staff who are involved in the submission of the specimen(s), which includes epidemiologists.
Barcodes and Expirations on the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34
When does the information on the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 get encoded on the barcodes?
CDC Specimen Submission Form information is validated and encoded in the barcodes when the form is printed using Adobe® Reader IX and later. The barcode is hidden until the information is validated.
Does printing the barcoded form require a color printer?
No. Printing the form on a black/white or color printer are both acceptable.
Once the form is saved to a local drive will it still warn the submitter when it is expiring?
Yes, the expiration alerts are built directly into the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 and will appear when a user opens an expiring form on their computer.
Submitter Information for the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34
Is there a way to lock the state public health laboratory (SPHL) information on the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 so it can be posted on their web site?
If you want to share the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 with your SPHL information, you can complete the SPHL submitter information in the Adobe fillable form and save the PDF. The PDF file with your SPHL submitter information can then be shared. Information populated on the form cannot be locked.
With CDC standardizing submitter information, can there be more than one point of contact (POC) per PHL (i.e. section heads)?
Yes, CDC recognizes that a PHL's points of contact may vary per submission, and therefore CDC can store multiple points of contact for each submitting organization. In contrast, there should only be one Laboratory Director for each PHL.
The SPHL submitter information changes often. Is there an alternative to us adding another name?
A formal request will need to be submitted to the helpdesk at CDC_ID_Lab.email@example.com (404-639-2176 locally or 1-855-612-7575 toll-free) to inform CDC of the change to the SPHL information.
Will you accept county public health laboratory submitter information?
Yes. If they are the original submitter of a specimen, then local and county public health laboratories would fill out the original submitter box when submitting the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34. The State should supply the form with the acceptable SPHL submitter information already completed to local and county public health laboratories that have permission to submit directly to CDC.
Filling in the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34
If submitters fill in PHL information in one CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 template, will it save the information to all of the templates (e.g. Human and Animals)?
Yes, saved PHL submitter information is retained when changing the specimen origin (e.g. switching the form from human to animal).
How do International submitters complete the form?
They fill out the top submitter block and complete the rest of the form as appropriate. If language is a barrier to completing the form, the submitter must contact an appropriate CDC laboratory to establish a process for submitting specimens to CDC.
Can you enter multiple codes in the test order code field? (i.e. IFA R. rickettsia and PCR for spotted fever group rickettsia) or several pathogens? (IFA R. rickettsia and E. chaffeneesis)
Only one test order code/name can be entered on the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34. It should be noted that these fields are drop down values on the form and a test order may encompass a panel of multiple tests.
Is there a way to indicate that samples may be paired or one of a larger set? (we often test paired serum samples that are best when run together)
The field ‘Specimen Source Modifier' allows one to say if the specimen is acute or convalescent. For noting what it is paired to, or part of a set, then a submitter could use the 'Brief Clinical Summary', or ‘Previous Laboratory Results' fields for denoting this information, both located on the back side of the form. The Extent area on the back side of the form allows one to define a particular outbreak if that is the case.
What if the submitter does not know the specimen type?
The submitter should select the blank entry in the drop down list.
Can submitters autocomplete the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 by importing information from a LIMS or spreadsheet?
No, there is no capability to populate the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34 from a LIMS, spreadsheet, or database.
Is there a field to include comments?
Comments should be added to the field labeled Previous Laboratory Results / Comments, located on the back of the form.
Infectious Diseases Laboratory Test Directory
Can I request my own laboratory tests?
Submitters can only order tests that are contained within the current Test Directory. Submitters may view the most current list of orderable tests by visiting the Test Directory site.
Is each test order name associated with only one test?
A test order name may encompass a single test or a panel of multiple tests. A submitter may obtain more detailed information about what tests may be performed to complete the order from the CDC Points of Contact listed at the bottom of each test order.
How often will the test directory be updated?
For additions and/or deletions to test orders, the directory will be updated concurrently with updates to the CDC Specimen Submission Form 50.34; therefore, additions and/or deletions will occur every 6 months. For edits to current test orders, these will be made on a more routine basis as needed and changes can be identified through a version number for each test order. The full downloadable test directory catalog will also be updated on an as needed basis.
Infectious Diseases Laboratory Reporting General Information
Who do I contact if I have a question with regard to a CDC laboratory report?
If there is a question about the data content contained on a CDC laboratory report, please contact the point of contact listed on the report. If there is a question about the delivery of the report, or a question about the encryption on a report, please contact the IDSS Help Desk by email or by phone 1-855-612-7575.
Infectious Diseases Laboratory eReporting
What is an eReport?
The CDC ID laboratory reporting process has been enhanced to provide electronic lab reports through secure email (i.e. eReporting). These reports will be sent as encrypted PDF files via secure password protection. Passwords are provided to institutions participating in the eReporting process and are unique to each institution. All eReports will be sent from the CDC email address CDCIDLabReports@cdc.gov. CDC will continue to send hardcopy reports as needed.
What types of reports can be sent as an eReport?
Preliminary, final, amended, and corrected reports are all eligible to be sent as an eReport.
Who will be the recipients of eReports from CDC?
CDC has contacted State Public Health Laboratories (SPHLs) and those that have agreed to participate in the eReporting process will be receiving eReports. As CDC further develops its capabilities on eReporting, participation in eReporting will likely be expanded to include additional submitters.
Are passwords unique for every report? What happens if I lose or can't remember my password?
For submitters participating in eReporting, a password will be provided to each institution. The password will be used to access every eReport sent from CDCIDLabReports@cdc.gov. If a password is lost or stolen, the submitter can contact the IDSS Help Desk by email or by phone 1-855-612-7575.
Can filling out the submitter fields incorrectly on the 50.34 Specimen Submission Form impact eReporting?
Yes! The eReports are linked to the submitter information provided on the form. It is essential that the submitter uses the correct institutional email address provided to CDC as part of their standardized submitter address information.
Distribution of Infectious Diseases Laboratory eReports
Will all CDC ID Laboratories be sending eReports?
At this time, not all CDC labs will have the capability to send eReports, and therefore, will continue to send hard copy reports to submitters.
When will the CDC eReports be sent?
CDC Laboratory eReports will be sent out twice daily from the CDCIDLabReports@cdc.gov email address.
What happens to an eReport if an email address no longer exists?
The CDCIDLabReports@cdc.gov email address that delivered the eReport will receive a delivery failure message for recipient email addresses that no longer exist. The CDC laboratory distributing the report will contact the institution to follow up with regard to the actions that need to take place.
Can I request another copy of a report via the eReporting process?
No. The eReporting process does not support a systematic re-send of a previously distributed eReport. If a submitter requests a copy of a distributed eReport from CDC, the submitter should contact the laboratory point of contact on the report to request a hard copy of the report. A report that was previously sent as an eReports can be sent out again through the eReporting process as amended or corrected reports only; otherwise a hard copy will be sent to the submitter.