Submitting Specimens to CDC’s Viral Special Pathogens Branch

We provide clinical consultation to state and local health departments for suspect cases of certain dangerous viruses. If it is required, we provide diagnostic and confirmatory testing for these viruses. CDC cannot accept any sample for testing without prior consultation.

State health departments can review the following guidelines and submit specimens to CDC using the forms below. Request hard copies of the forms, if necessary, by calling the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing spather@cdc.gov.

Physicians in the U.S. should contact state or local health departments for consultation and questions.

Physicians outside of the U.S. should contact CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or email spather@cdc.gov for questions.

Private citizens should not submit specimens to CDC for testing. If you feel that diagnostic testing is necessary, consult your physician or state health department.

Specimen Submission Forms

Once testing is approved following consultation with VSPB, please complete and submit the VSPB Specimen Submission Formpdf icon along with the specimen you are requesting to test.

To submit a non-human primate specimen for testing, complete the Primate Testing Formpdf icon, following the instructions included on the form. Include a copy of the form with the specimen, saving another copy for your records. Email spather@cdc.gov for questions.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding submitting a specimen or any public health emergency, please contact your state or local health department or contact the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100.

Requirements for Submitting Specimens to VSPB

Requirements for Submitting Specimens to VSPB
Test Specimen type Volume Packaging requirements
PCR/Virus Isolation Preferred: whole blood (purple, yellow, or blue top tube), fresh frozen tissue.
Alternative: Serum, if only sample available.
Minimum: 4 ml. Place in plastic screw capped vials, freeze to -70°C, and sent on dry ice.
Serology Whole blood or serum. Other samples may be tested with approval from CDC. Minimum: 4 ml. Keep cold (at or below 4°C) and shipped with a cold pack, or on dry ice in a plastic tube.
Immunohist-ochemistry (IHC) Preferred: Lung, kidney, and spleen tissues.
Alternative: Lymph nodes, heart, pancreas, pituitary, brain, or liver.
N/A Preferred: Paraffin block, particularly if death was not recent.

Alternative: formalin-fixed tissues.Ship at room temperature – do not freeze.

Send an autopsy or surgical report with the specimen.

Shipping Considerations

  • No specimens will be accepted at CDC without prior consultation. For consultation, state or local health departments can call CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100.
  • If testing at CDC is approved, email tracking number to spather@cdc.gov.
  • Package in accordance with the International Air Transport Association (I.A.T.A.)external icon regulations to prevent leakage.
  • Do not freeze glass tubes.
  • Ship to:
    • <Insert CDC Point of Contact>
      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      RDSB/STAT Unit 70
      1600 Clifton Road, NE
      Atlanta, GA 30329
  • Specify specimen storage requirements on the outside of the box: Refrigerate, Frozen, or Do Not Refrigerate. Label sample as diagnostic specimen and include the following information:
  • Send specimens by overnight courier (FedEx preferred). Fax airway bill number and packing list to VSPB at (404) 471-2526. For international submitters, consider direct shipment with an airline to expedite arrival at CDC. Do not ship for weekend delivery unless instructed by CDC.
  • Subsequent shipments during outbreak may require U.S. Public Health permits.

Additional Considerations for Suspect Ebola Specimens

  • Hospitals should follow state and/or local health department procedures for notification and consultation for Ebola testing requests prior to contacting CDC.
  • NO specimens will be accepted at CDC without prior consultation. For consultation call the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100.
  • State guidelines may differ; contact your state/or local health department prior to shipping specimens. Your state and/or local health department, in collaboration with CDC, will determine the proper category for shipment based on clinical history and risk assessment.