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Specimen Submission Guidelines

IDPB performs a variety of diagnostic techniques. Details on who may submit specimens and how they should be submitted are outlined below.

Who May Submit Specimens

State health departments, U.S. physicians and non-U.S. physicians may submit specimens for evaluation. Individuals other than physicians or appropriate state health department personnel may not submit specimens directly to CDC.

If you are a patient, please contact your physician or local health department. A list of state health departments with contact information is available here.


Because of the hazards associated with handling specimens and virus isolation, testing is only done with prior consultation. Without prior consultation, the choice of tests and availability of appropriate specimens may delay the initiation of testing.

General Guidelines for Shipping Pathology Specimens

Download: General Guidelines for Shipping Pathology Specimens [PDF - 286 KB]

Packaging Guidelines

Room Temperature

  • Formalin-fixed wet tissues
  • Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded blocks*
  • Glass slides with sections from paraffin-embedded blocks
  • Glass slides with smears
  • EM blocks / EM grids

Refrigerated (frozen gel packs)

  • Fresh tissue
  • Blood
  • Wet tissue in EM fixative
  • Stool for EM

Frozen (dry ice) §

  • Fresh frozen tissue
  • Serum
  • Body fluids (BAL, CSF, urine)

* During the warmer months (June-August), it is advisable to ship the block(s) with a frozen gel ice-pack in order to prevent the melting of paraffin-embedded tissue blocks during transit.

§ When shipping frozen specimens from long distances or from international locations, it is best to use a combination of dry ice and frozen gel ice-packs. The gel ice-packs will remain frozen for a day or two after the dry ice has dissipated.

Shipping Guidelines

Supporting Documentation

Please include:

  • A completed CDC Form 50.34
  • a cover letter outlining a brief clinical history, including relevant demographic/epidemiologic information
  • a copy of (a) the autopsy report (preliminary or final) or (b) surgical pathology report
  • copies of pertinent laboratory results (microbiology, hematology, serology, culture, and/or biochemical)
  • images (clinical and/or gross autopsy photos)

Include the full name, title, complete mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone and fax numbers of the submitter. This will be the same person to whom the final pathology report is addressed.


All specimens should be addressed to:

Chief, Infectious Diseases Pathology Branch (IDPB)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1600 Clifton Rd NE, MS G-32
Atlanta, GA 30329-4027

Phone: (404) 639-3133
Fax: (404) 639-3043

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Specimen Submission Guidelines

Specimen submission protocol varies depending upon the situation. Click on the appropriate listing below for specific instructions.

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