Submitting Specimens for Arboviral Tests

What to know

  • Contact your state or local health department to facilitate diagnostic testing of specimens for evidence of arboviral infections.
  • Health departments can determine if samples should be sent to the CDC's Arbovirus Diagnostic Laboratory for further testing.
Eastern equine encephalitis virus in mosquito salivary gland tissue.

Instructions for submitting diagnostic specimens

Please read these instructions for sending diagnostic specimens to CDC. Complete a CDC 50.34 Specimen Submission Form or submit through CSTOR.

NOTE: Testing will not be initiated without the inclusion of:

  1. Date of onset of symptoms
  2. Date of specimen collection. NOTE: If the specimen collection occurs within 8 days after the onset of symptoms, a convalescent specimen may be requested.
  3. Any pertinent travel history (3 months prior to the date of symptom onset)
  4. The patient's name and/or unique ID, DOB, and sex (REQUIRED for submitting specimens)

To enable printing of CDC submission form 50.34, each of the following fields must be completed, as directed:

  1. Specimen Origin field (located on 1st page, top left corner), select "HUMAN" from the drop-down menu
  2. Test Order Name field (located on 1st page, top left), select "ARBOVIRUS SEROLOGY" or "ARBOVIRUS MOLECULAR DETECTION" from the drop-down menu, as applicable.
  3. Original Submitter e-mail field (located on 1st page, middle right box), type your e-mail address
  4. Brief clinical summary (located on second page, top of page), include the name(s) of the arbovirus(es) for which you are requesting testing, if known. Also, if you would like to request testing other than serology or molecular detection (e.g., isolation), please note the type of test requested in this field.


For information regarding shipping packages and applicable regulations, please refer to the NCEZID Division of Scientific Resources' Specimen Management website for specific information.

Specimen types and amounts

  1. Acute and convalescent specimens, if available, should be sent together.
  2. Ideal timing of specimens for serology (see table below).
  3. At least 0.5 mL of serum and/or 1.0 mL of CSF is required for serology testing. CSF specimens are routinely tested undiluted and therefore require larger amounts. Whole blood will not be accepted for serology testing. Please transfer serum or CSF to a plastic tube with screw cap measuring no more than 5 cm tall and approximately 13 mm in diameter (e.g., 1.8 mL cryotube or 2.0 mL microtube).
  4. For serology or nucleic acid testing, the specimen should be kept cold or frozen. The sample may be placed in an insulated container with blue ice packs. Additional blue ice packs should be used in the summer to ensure specimen integrity in hot weather.
  5. For nucleic acid amplification testing, acceptable specimens are serum or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Formalin-fixed tissues are not tested at DVBD. If interested in submitting formalin-fixed tissues for pathologic or molecular evaluation for possible infectious etiologies, please contact CDC's Infectious Diseases Branch in Atlanta, GA at
Specimen Type Timing
Acute 3–10 days after onset of symptoms
Convalescent 2–3 weeks after acute sample

Testing results

Final test reports may not be available for at least 3 weeks after specimen receipt and are dependent on the number of tests requested and if any reflective (e.g., confirmatory) testing is performed. Reporting times for test results may be longer during summer months or when arbovirus activity increases.

Initial serological testing will be performed using IgM capture ELISA and/or IgM Microsphere Immunoassay (MIA) (as appropriate for clinical presentation). Specimens testing IgM positive will typically undergo confirmatory plaque reduction neutralization testing.

If the initial results are positive, further confirmatory testing may delay the reporting of final results. All results will be sent to the appropriate state or local health department.

All specimens should be submitted to CDC through state or local health departments and not submitted directly to CDC.

Shipping address

Send all specimens to:

ATTN: Arbovirus Diagnostic Laboratory
3156 Rampart Road
Fort Collins, CO 80521

Further assistance

Additional assistance may be obtained from the DVBD Arbovirus Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory