Packaging and Shipping Specimens for Anthrax Testing

Do not ship any specimens or samples without first obtaining authorization from both your state health department and CDC. Please contact CDC Emergency Operations Center at 1-770-488-7100 to coordinate anthrax testing and for further shipping instructions.

Packaging the specimen for submission to CDC

  • Insert absorbent material (such as absorbent sheets) into a sealable plastic bag (bag #1) and place the plastic vial(s) containing serum specimens into the bag.
  • Line a leakproof secondary packaging, such as an appropriate plastic screw-top canister (shipping canister), with absorbent material.
    • Use enough absorbent material to absorb the entire contents of the plastic vials, in the event there is a leak or spill.
  • Place the sealed plastic bag into the shipping canister.
    • Place a biohazard label on the outer surface of the shipping container.
  • Place dry ice into a polystyrene foam-lined box (the overpack‡).
    • Use at least 6 pounds (~3kg) of dry ice for each day of shipping time; at least 12 pounds (~6 kg) is required for overnight shipment (2 days).
    • Divide the weight of the ice in pounds by 2 to get the approximate weight in kg.
  • Place the shipping canister into the overpack.
  • Place an itemized list of contents and the CDC Form 50.34 inside a second plastic bag (bag #2). Seal and place the bag inside the overpack.  Do not put any paperwork in the bag containing the specimens (bag #1) or in the shipping canister.

Labeling the package for shipment

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations state that the following labels and markings should be placed on one side of the overpack:
    • The “UN 3373 Biological substance, Category B” marking
    • The “Miscellaneous Class 9” label (dry ice label with 9 at the bottom of the diamond)
      • This label should include the dry ice marking: “UN 1845 Carbon dioxide, solid (dry ice)” where you must list the weight of the dry ice (in kg) included in the box.
      • Divide the weight of the ice in pounds by 2 to get the approximate weight in kg.
    • “OVERPACK” – This indicates that secondary packaging has been placed in an outer box with dry ice.
    • “Name and Telephone Number of Person Responsible for Shipment” – This person must be knowledgeable about the shipment and know how to remediate in case of spill or leakage.
    • Two sets of “Double up Arrows” – Place one set on the same side of the box as the shipping labels, and another set on the opposite side of the box.

‡Overpack is defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 49 CFR 171.8, Hazardous Materials Regulations as an enclosure that is used by a single consignor to provide protection or convenience in handling of a package or to consolidate two or more packages.

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