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Specimen Collection, Storage, & Shipment

Refer to this table when you collect, store and ship specimens. Before sending specimens to CDC, please contact wnix@cdc.gov or soberste@cdc.gov.

Note that CDC will use real-time PCR for generic testing and nested PCR for typing.

Specimen Type Minimum Amount Collection Storage Shipping Comments
Respiratory – NP/OP swab 1ml Store in viral transport medium Freeze at
-20°C
Ship on dry ice
Respiratory – NP/OP wash or aspirate 1ml Collect in sterile container, no special medium required Freeze at
-20°C
Ship on dry ice
Stool ≥1gram Collect in sterile container, no special medium required Freeze at
-20°C
Ship on dry ice Virus present for longer than other specimen types
Rectal swab ≥1gram Store in viral transport medium Freeze at
-20°C
Ship on dry ice
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) ≥150 ul Collect in sterile container, no special medium required.
Collect within 0-4 days of symptom onset (earlier the better)
Freeze at
-20°C
Ship on dry ice
Serum Not recommended
Fresh-frozen tissue N/A Place directly on dry ice or liquid nitrogen Freeze at
-70°C
Ship on dry ice Preferred to formalin-fixed/paraffin embedded tissue
Formalin-fixed or formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue N/A Avoid prolonged fixation—can fix in formalin then transfer to 100% ethanol Room temperature Ship at room temperature with paraffin blocks in carriers to prevent breakage Acceptable, but lower sensitivity than fresh-frozen tissue
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