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Other Specimens – Whole Organisms

Unequivocal identification of genus/species is frequently dependent on direct morphological examination of the entire organism or diagnostically useful portions (e.g., proglottids). Ideally this is performed prior to histological sectioning and staining, which can be informative in some instances but often precludes or complicates specific diagnosis.

Please submit the entire intact organism if it is available. If histological sectioning is indicated, it can be performed at CDC after examining the whole specimen. Please note that receipt of the whole specimen is critical for accurate diagnosis. If multiple whole specimens are in question, please submit all available specimens, as examination of different life stages and sexes of helminths/arthropods may assist in accurate diagnosis. If you would like your specimens returned to you, please state this on the submission form and it will be arranged.

Please be advised that CDC offers diagnostic testing on specimens collected from human patients. Specimens of animal origin will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Helminths (cestodes, trematodes, nematodes, and acanthocephalans)

  • Preservation in 70–90% ethanol or glycerol-ethanol (10% glycerol in 70% ethanol) is preferred as this allows for DNA extraction and molecular identification, if deemed necessary following morphologic examination.
  • Formalin-containing fixatives/storage solutions are acceptable for morphologic diagnosis but may interfere with molecular identification.
  • Organisms that are alive at the time of collection should ideally be washed in saline, relaxed and killed by various methods, and then transferred to a storage solution. This protects sample integrity, and for nematodes avoids fixation in a coiled shape that may be difficult to examine.
  • Specimens should be shipped in plastic containers. Close all containers securely and wrap the lid with plastic film (Parafilm). Ship according to the following shipping guidelines: (https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/diagnosticProcedures/other/shipment.html) (https://www.cdc.gov/laboratory/specimen-submission/shipping-packing.html)
  • If shipping directly to CDC, with permission of the appropriate county or state health department, please use the following address:

Attn: DPDx
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
RDSB/STAT
ATTN: Unit 52
1600 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30329-4027
(404) 718-4110

Arthropods

  • Most arthropods of potential public health concern (including ticks, lice, mites, fleas, fly larvae, triatomine bugs, etc.) can be examined and identified by county/state extension services. Please contact your relevant local office prior to DPDx submission.
  • DPDx accepts arthropod specimens that are collected in association with suspected human exposure (e.g., removed directly from patients). Environmental samples generally will not be accepted.
  • Specimens should be stored in 70-90% ethanol and shipped as directed: (https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/diagnosticProcedures/other/shipment.html) (https://www.cdc.gov/laboratory/specimen-submission/shipping-packing.html)
  • If shipping directly to CDC, with permission of the appropriate county or state health department, please use the following address:

Attn: DPDx
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
RDSB/STAT
ATTN: Unit 52
1600 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30329-4027
(404) 718-4110

DPDx is an education resource designed for health professionals and laboratory scientists. For an overview including prevention and control visit www.cdc.gov/parasites/.

Page last reviewed: February 14, 2019