For Public Health Veterinarians and Animal Health Officials

Testing Animals for Monkeypox

Animals should be tested for monkeypox if they meet the suspect case definition (i.e., epi link and clinical signs).

Sample collection

  • While collecting samples from animals with suspected cases, follow precautions, including:
    • Hand hygiene before and after sample collection
    • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE): a disposable gown, gloves, eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shield), and a NIOSH-approved particulate respirator equipped with N95 filters or higher
  • Employers must comply with OSHA’s standards on PPE (29 CFR 1910.132), Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134), and other requirements, including those established by state plans, whenever such requirements apply.
  • Acceptable clinical samples from animals and how to collect them:
    • Lesion (rash) material is required for animals with an active rash. This may include a swab of the lesion surface, swab of lesion fluid, or lesion crust.
    • If no rash is present, oral, nasal, and anal swabs are acceptable.
    • Use polyester swabs with a thin plastic, wood, or aluminum shaft; avoid using cotton swabs if possible.
    • Whole blood collected in a tube with EDTA is acceptable.
    • Serum should be separated from whole blood (preferably in a serum separator tube) within 2 hours after blood collection and then transferred to a sterile tube for submission.
  • If lesions are present, more than one lesion should be sampled, preferably from different locations on the body and/or from lesions with differing appearances.
    • Vigorously swab the lesion to ensure adequate DNA is collected.
    • Wet lesions under the fur can be identified by clumping of hair (moist or dry).
  • Take pictures of the lesions as diagnostic tools.
  • If samples need to be tested from a dead or euthanized animal, email CDC at the address below for additional information.

Sample storage and shipping

  • Swabs can be stored in VTM or UTM (300ul) or in a dry tube.
  • Lesion crusts should be sent in a dry tube.
  • Swabs can be stored in O-ring sealed 2 mL screw-cap tubes or other gasketed sterile container.
  • Use one storage container per sample; do not store multiple swabs or samples in a single container.
  • Samples should be stored refrigerated or frozen within an hour of collection if possible.
  • Ship samples with enough ice packs or dry ice to ensure they arrive cold (dry ice is preferred).
  • Packages must be accompanied with a list of contents on shipper letterhead.
    • Ensure there is no human personal identifiable information (PII) included.
  • Samples should be packaged and shipped as UN 3373 Biological Substance Category B guidelines (see U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transporting Infectious Substances Safely).

Sample Submission

  • Prior to sample submission, email eocevent269@cdc.gov to request testing and to receive global file accessioning template (GFAT).
  • Complete sample submission GFAT and return to eocevent269@cdc.gov, include tracking number with email.
  • Send samples as detailed above to:
    • US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      STAT LAB: ATTN POX (unit 47) One Health
      1600 Clifton Rd NE
      Mailstop G-12
      Atlanta, GA 30333

What to do about probable and confirmed animal cases

  • Infected animals can potentially spread monkeypox to people or other animals including companion animals, livestock or production animals, zoo animals, and wild animals (captive and free-ranging, as well as household pests such as mice and rats).
  • Animals infected with monkeypox should be separated from other animals and contact with people should be limited to interactions such as feeding and basic care for at least 21 days after the initial onset of clinical signs.
  • Veterinary staff caring for and cleaning up after sick animals should follow standard veterinary precautions, including hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • People who are immunocompromised, pregnant, have young children present (<8 years of age), or with a history of atopic dermatitis or eczema, should not provide care for ill animals that had close contact with a person with monkeypox.
    • PPE should include a disposable gown, gloves, eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, or face shield), and a NIOSH-approved particulate respirator with N95 filters or higher.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand rub or wash hands with soap and water after PPE has been removed.
    • Employers must comply with OSHA’s standards on PPE (29 CFR 1910.132), Respiratory Protection (29 CFR 1910.134), and other requirements, including those established by state plans, whenever such requirements apply.
  • It is preferable to keep animals that are infected with monkeypox isolated in their home.
    • If it is not possible to keep infected animals in the home, it may be recommended to move them to an isolation facility.
    • Do not leave or dispose of waste outdoors as monkeypox infections in wildlife may occur.
    • If appropriate for the species and the plumbing system, flush animal waste down the toilet.
    • Disposable animal housing, disposable rodent bedding, and animal waste that cannot be flushed down the toilet should be sealed in a bag and disposed of properly to prevent these materials from infecting people or other animals, including wild animals and household pests like mice and rats. Follow disinfection guidance for home and other non-healthcare settings.
  • Bedding, enclosures, food dishes, and any other items in direct contact with infected animals must be properly disinfected following disinfection guidance for home and other non-healthcare settings.
  • Soiled laundry and bedding (including disposable rodent bedding) should not be shaken or otherwise handled in a manner that may disperse infectious particles.
  • For household disinfection, follow disinfection guidance for home and other non-healthcare settings.