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Specimen Submission Information

State Health Departments

Review the following guidelines and use the following forms to submit specimens to CDC. Forms are available below or by calling 404-639-1115. Forms are offered in Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF) format.

U.S. Physicians

Contact your state health department before sending specimens to CDC. For links to state health departments visit the State Health Departments page.

Non U.S. Physicians

Because of the hazard associated with handling specimens, testing is done only with prior consultation.

Private Citizens

Individuals, other than physicians or appropriate state health department employees, may not submit specimens to CDC for testing. If you feel that diagnostic testing is necessary, consult your physician or state health department.

Non-human primates from Quarantine Facilities

Specimens are only accepted with prior consultation. For consultation during business hours (9:00 am - 4:30 pm EST) call 404-639-1115 or 404-639-1510; FAX 404-639-1118 or 404-639-1509.

For consultation during business hours (9:00 am - 4:30 pm EST) call:
Phone - (404) 639-1115 or (404) 639-1510
Fax - (404) 639-1118 or (404) 639-1509.

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Guidelines for Submitting Specimens to the Viral Special Pathogens Branch (VSPB)


The following specimen types may be submitted:

  • Serum drawn near admission with clots retained from red top tube
  • As late a serum as available
  • Convalescent serum drawn approximately 21 days after first specimen
  • Post-mortem heart blood

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Minimum volume: 1ml serum (2.5 ml preferred)
  • Serum samples must be shipped with a cold pack, or on dry ice in a plastic tube.
  • Clots and acute blood for virus isolation must be sent on dry ice in a plastic tube.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC)

The following types of formalin-fixed or paraffin-embedded tissues may be submitted:

  • Lung, kidney, and spleen tissues are preferred.
  • Other tissues that may be sent include lymph nodes, heart, pancreas, pituitary, brain, or liver.

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Paraffin blocks are preferred, particularly if death was not recent.
  • If paraffin blocks are not available, formalin-fixed tissues may be sent.
  • Ship paraffin blocks or formalin-fixed tissue at room temperature--do not freeze.
  • An autopsy or surgical report must accompany the specimen.

PCR/Virus Isolation

The following types of samples may be submitted:

  • Ante-mortem: You may submit biopsy material of the lung or bone marrow aspirate or clot.
  • Post-mortem: spleen, lung, kidney, liver, lymph nodes, heart, pancreas, pituitary, brain, or liver tissue, or heart blood.

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Clots must be sent on dry ice in a plastic tube.
  • Tissues should be at least 1cm3.
  • Buffy coat and fresh tissues must be shipped on dry ice.


  1. NO specimens accepted without prior consultation. Call for mailing address ((404) 639-1510 or (404) 639-1115).
  2. Send specimens by overnight courier (Federal Express preferred) and fax airway bill number and packing list to VSPB at (404) 639-1509 or (404) 639-1118. International submitter should consider direct shipment with an airline to expedite arrival at CDC.
  3. Do not freeze glass tubes.
  4. Package in accordance with I.A.T.A. regulations to prevent leakage. Here are two useful links for information on these regulations:
  5. Label sample as diagnostic specimen and include the following information: your name, the patient's name, test(s) requested, date of collection, laboratory or accession number, and the type of specimen being shipped, a specimen submission form, and a case report form (for hantavirus testing only). On the outside of the box, specify how the specimen should be stored: refrigerated, frozen, or do not refrigerate.
  6. Subsequent shipments from outbreaks may require U.S. Public Health Service permits.

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Specimen Submission Form

Download the form below. Fill it out and include it with your specimen(s). The form here is available only in PDF format. If you need a copy faxed to you, please call (404) 639-1510.

Viral Special Pathogens Branch (VSPB) Specimen Submission Form [PDF - 149 KB] .

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Specimen Submission Form for non-human primates specimens

Download the Primate Testing Form [PDF - 902 KB] . Follow instructions described on the form. Save a copy for you and include another copy with the specimen. The form is available only in PDF format and blank forms may be printed and filled by hand. Please call 404-639-1115 during business hours (9:00 am - 4:30 pm EST) for a consultation or questions. Forms may also be sent via FAX to 404-639-1118 or 404-639-1509.

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Related Links

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  • Contact VSPB
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  • Email VSPB The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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