Specimen Submission Information

State Health Departments

Review the following guidelines and use the forms below to submit specimens to CDC. You can also request forms by calling the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or emailing spather@cdc.gov. Forms are offered in Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF) format.

U.S. Physicians

Contact your state health department for consultation before sending specimens to CDC.

Non U.S. Physicians

Testing at CDC is done only with prior consultation. Please call the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 or email spather@cdc.gov for questions.

Private Citizens

Individuals, other than physicians or appropriate state health department employees, may not submit specimens to CDC for testing. If you feel that diagnostic testing is necessary, consult your physician or state health department.

Guidelines for Submitting Specimens to the Viral Special Pathogens Branch (VSPB)

PCR/Virus Isolation

Specimen types:

  • Preferred: whole blood (purple, yellow, or blue top tube), fresh frozen tissue.
  • Serum can also be used if only sample available.

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Minimum volume: 4ml
  • Ship on dry ice in a plastic tube.

Serology

Specimen types:

  • Serum or whole blood drawn near admission with clots removed from red top tube
  • Convalescent serum drawn approximately 21 days after first specimen

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Minimum volume: 4ml
  • Ship with a cold pack, or on dry ice in a plastic tube.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC)

Specimen types:

  • Lung, kidney, and spleen tissues are preferred.
  • Lymph nodes, heart, pancreas, pituitary, brain, or liver may be sent.

Specimen packaging requirements:

  • Paraffin blocks are preferred, particularly if death was not recent.
  • If paraffin blocks are not available, formalin-fixed tissues may be sent.
  • Ship paraffin blocks or formalin-fixed tissue at room temperature–do not freeze.
  • An autopsy or surgical report must accompany the specimen.

Suspect Ebola Specific Notes

  1. Hospitals should follow their state and/or local health department procedures for notification and consultation for Ebola testing requests and prior to contacting CDC.
  2. NO specimens will be accepted at CDC without prior consultation. For consultation call the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100.
  3. State guidelines may differ; therefore 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.
  4. Email tracking number to spather@cdc.gov.
  5. Do not ship for weekend delivery unless instructed by CDC.
  6. Ship to:
    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      ATTN STAT LAB: VSPB, UNIT #70
      1600 Clifton Road NE
      Atlanta, GA 30333
      Phone 470-312-0094

  7. Include the following information: your name, the patient’s name, test(s) requested, date of collection, laboratory or accession number, and the type of specimen being shipped.
  8. Include the CDC Infectious Disease (CDC Form 50.34) and specimen submission forms pdf icon[PDF – 182KB, 508].
  9. On the outside of the box, specify how the specimen should be stored: refrigerated or frozen.

NOTES

  1. NO specimens will be accepted without prior consultation. For consultation call the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100.
  2. Send specimens by overnight courier (Federal Express preferred) and fax airway bill number and packing list to VSPB at 404-471-2526. International submitter should consider direct shipment with an airline to expedite arrival at CDC.
  3. Do not freeze glass tubes.
  4. Package in accordance with I.A.T.A. regulations to prevent leakage. Here are two useful links for information on these regulations:
  5. Label sample as diagnostic specimen and include the following information: your name, the patient’s name, test(s) requested, date of collection, laboratory or accession number, and the type of specimen being shipped, a specimen submission form, and a case report form (for hantavirus testing only). On the outside of the box, specify how the specimen should be stored: refrigerated, frozen, or do not refrigerate.
  6. Subsequent shipments from outbreaks may require U.S. Public Health Service permits.
  7. Priority testing will be performed only after consultation with CDC where it is determined that it is indicated.

Specimen Submission Form

Download the VSPB Specimen Submission Form and Instruction pdf icon[PDF – 182KB, 508], fill it out, and include it with your specimen(s). The form here is available only in PDF format. If you need a copy faxed to you, please email spather@cdc.gov.

Specimen Submission Form for Non-Human Primates Specimens

Download the Primate Testing Form pdf icon[PDF – 1MB] . Follow instructions described on the form. Save a copy for yourself and include another copy with the specimen. The form is available only in PDF format and blank forms may be printed and filled by hand. Please email spather@cdc.gov for a consultation or questions. Forms may also be sent via FAX to 404-471-2526.

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