Help & FAQs

Submitting Specimens to CDC

Here are some important DOs and DON’Ts that highlight common errors users make with the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form. Please take a look.

If you have a question and don’t see it here, scroll down to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section below. If you still don’t have your answer, email or call the Infectious Diseases Specimen Submission (IDSS) Help Desk.

DO
  • Complete one form for each specimen you submit
  • Fill out the form electronically
  • Print front and back pages of the form at the same time
  • For submitters outside of the SPHL, please contact your local SPHL for assistance in completing the submitter information on the 50.34 Form
DO NOT
  • Use unofficial submitter information in the State PHL block of the form, such as your own name, email, phone #, etc.
  • Submit multiple specimens using one form
  • Handwrite or place labels/stickers on the form
  • Print front and back pages of the form at different times (doing this disables the barcodes from being scanned by CDC)
  • Send specimens directly to CDC without permission of your SPHL

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 CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The CDC Infectious Diseases Laboratories offer various services for laboratory testing. CDC often receives inquiries regarding information concerning submission forms, testing services, and laboratory reporting. Below is a list of inquiries and responses pertaining to these services. This list will be updated as more inquiries are received, and responses are complete.

CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form General Information

Downloading the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form

Barcodes and Expirations on the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form

Submitter Information for the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form

Filling in the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form

Infectious Diseases Laboratory Test Directory

Infectious Diseases Laboratory Reporting General Information

Infectious Diseases Laboratory eReporting

Distribution of Infectious Diseases Laboratory eReports

CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form General Information

What is the upgraded CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form?

Available since November 1, 2021, the upgraded CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form is an offline, standalone desktop application built exclusively on open-source technologies. It provides enhanced capabilities, such as automated, in-app updates, while preserving the ability to generate static PDF submission forms accessible by any standard PDF viewer application.

Can I submit more than one specimen using a single CDC  50.34 Specimen Submission Form?

A completed CDC 50.34 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 laboratory to submit specimens using a batch form.

How can I tell if there has been a recent update to the form?

You can see the latest update, by the version number and expiration date at the bottom right of the form. The form will be reviewed frequently for updates at which time it will receive a new version number and expiration date. When you open up the form, it will make you do the update as long as it is downloaded on your computer and connected to internet.

How do I notify local partners about upgrades to the form?

The Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) is targeting communications through their Infectious Diseases committees. For major upgrades, please check the CDC Specimen Submission website or reach out to the Association for Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

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 an upgraded form is required for submissions. Announcements were posted to the ASM list serves (DivC and ClinMicroNet) to inform the clinical laboratories about the upgraded CDC submission form and to contact their State Public Health Laboratories (SPHL) if they are authorized to send specimens directly to CDC.

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 SPHL 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 an SPHL wants a clinical laboratory to submit their specimen directly, the SPHL 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 SPHL, who can capture this data and then the SPHL can send the results back to the clinical laboratory. An SPHL 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 50.34 Specimen Submission Form to perform certain tests. When those test orders are selected on the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form, 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.

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Downloading the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form

How do I download the upgraded CDC 50.34, Specimen Submission Form?

You can download the form on the Specimen Submission Form webpage.

Are data transmitted electronically through the form?

No. The CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form is designed to be filled out electronically, printed and sent to CDC along with a sample. The CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form should not be sent via unsecure email because of PII data.

For more information about electronic submission through the CDC Specimen Test Order and Reporting (CSTOR) Web Portal, please visit this webpage.

Can the Epidemiology group see the completed forms, or are only laboratory personnel given access?

Completed specimen submission forms are available to the staff who are involved in the submission of the specimen(s), which include epidemiologists.

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Barcodes and Expirations on the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form

When does the information on the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form get encoded on the barcodes?

CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form information is validated and encoded in the barcodes when the form is printed. The barcode is hidden until the minimally required fields are completed on the form.

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 50.34 Specimen Submission Form and will appear when a user opens an expiring form on their computer.

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Submitter Information for the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form

With CDC standardizing submitter information, can there be more than one point of contact (POC) per SPHL (i.e., section heads)?

Yes, CDC recognizes that a SPHL’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 SPHL.

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 Infectious Diseases Specimen Submission (IDSS) Help Desk (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 50.34 Specimen Submission Form. The state public health laboratory can assist in completing the SPHL submitter information for local and county public health laboratories that have permission to submit directly to CDC.

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Filling in the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form

If submitters fill in SPHL information in one CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form template, will it save the information to all of the templates (e.g., Human and Animals)?

Yes, saved SPHL 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?

International submitters should fill out the Original Submitter block with their information and then complete the rest of the form as appropriate. Please note that an Original Submitter ‘Institutional email’ must be provided, and the top submitter box may be left blank. 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? (e.g., IFA R. rickettsia and PCR for spotted fever group rickettsia) or several pathogens? (e.g., IFA R. rickettsia and E. chaffeneesis)

Only one test order code/name can be entered on the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form. 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 second page of the form. The Extent area on the second page 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 50.34 Specimen Submission Form by importing information from a LIMS or spreadsheet?

No, there is no capability to populate the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form from a LIMS, spreadsheet, or database. However, submitters can populate some information on the CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form when using the CDC Specimen Test Order and Reporting (CSTOR) Web Portal. Through CSTOR’s Batch Upload feature, submitters can import an Excel spreadsheet from their LIMS into the CSTOR application for specimen submission. If your file does not contain the accepted system column headers, you can map your original column headers to CSTOR column headers and then save the order as a template for future use.

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.

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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 available 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 50.34 Specimen Submission Form; however, there are special cases where additions and/or deletions can be incorporated outside of a scheduled update. 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.

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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.

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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?

State Public Health Laboratories (SPHLs) and those that have agreed to participate in the eReporting process will be receiving eReports.

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 CDC 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.

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Distribution of Infectious Diseases Laboratory eReports

Will all CDC ID Laboratories be sending eReports?

At this time, not all CDC laboratories 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. If a user submits specimens using CSTOR, they will receive electronic reports in CSTOR. In addition, reports within CSTOR can be accessed at any time and downloaded without having to contact the CDC laboratory to resend.

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