Labeling and Shipping

Labeling and Packaging of Samples

All submissions require:

  • Owner's name and address with business name if applicable
  • Veterinarian's name, address, phone and fax numbers.
  • Animal identification
  • Type of sample submitted
  • Test(s) requested
Packaging and Shipping

Specimens are delivered to PADLS laboratories via private courier, owner/veterinarian drop-off, US Postal Service, and most major delivery companies. Please contact your chosen shipper directly for proper packaging details. Some general packaging and shipping guidelines are listed below.

  • Overnight trackable methods of shipment are recommended for perishable samples. Label outside of box “perishable”. Include ice packs (do not use ice) being sure that chilled samples are not in direct contact with the ice packs as it could damage the specimen. Place absorbent material in between samples.
  • Ship specimens in two layers of appropriate leak-proof containers. When including fluids (including formalin) be sure lid is sealed. Double bag all specimens.
  • Include packing material adequate to cushion the containers and absorb all fluids in the event of leakage or breakage.
  • Label each specimen with the owner’s name, and the animal’s identification.
  • Do not wrap submission forms around samples. If the sample leaks, the form will be damaged. Enclose the paperwork for all samples in a single zip-lock bag and place it on top of the samples.
  • Do not send samples in syringes and remove all sharps from the boxes. Packages with sharps will be rejected.
  • Label the outside of the box clearly. Remove old conflicting labels that could confuse delivery.
  • Packages should be marked with a 'Diagnostic Specimen' label on the outside of the box.
  • Your return address is important. This is one way to track packages received by the laboratory.
  • Do not ship in unprotected Styrofoam containers: these break easily if squeezed or dropped. Styrofoam within a cardboard box is recommended.

Please note that samples will not be received on weekends and major holidays so care must be taken to avoid shipment/delivery during these times. If you have any questions please contact the individual laboratory for hours of operation.

IATA has recently tightened their guidelines for shipment of known pathogens and even diagnostic specimens for some diseases, including Rabies. If you are shipping a pathogen or a diagnostic specimen with potential zoonotic risks, the IATA Dangerous Goods and Safety Website contains online information about the regulations. Rabies specimens should be shipped by courier and not by air. The complete Federal Department of Transport (DOT) Regulation can be found at .

Federal regulations govern the packaging and labeling of diagnostic specimens. If spillage that damages mail or equipment occurs during the shipment, the shipper may face prosecution, even if the material involved was not hazardous.

Human Exposure Rabies Submission Form Complete this form if:

  • A bite has been inflicted to some part of the body of a human
  • The animal's saliva has made contact with a fresh, open wound, mucous membrane, or the eye of a human
  • Severe scratches by teeth or claws have broken the skin of a human

For all other submissions, please complete the following form:
Non Human Exposure Rabies Submisson Form

A completed rabies submission form MUST accompany each submission.

Contact with suspect carcasses and samples should be avoided if possible. If some contact is necessary, gloves should be worn.

Rabies testing for human exposure cases is performed at:
the PA Department of Health, Bureau of Laboratories
110 Pickering Way, Lionville, PA 19353; 610-280-3464

Rabies testing for livestock and non-human exposure cases is performed at:
the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory (PVL) in Harrisburg
telephone number 717-787-8808.

No live animals will be accepted for rabies testing.

If the animal is alive:

  • Livestock and companion animals – contact your local veterinarian for euthanasia
  • Wildlife – contact your local PA Game Commission field officer for capture and euthanasia
  • Stray or feral animals – contact your local animal control officer for capture and euthanasia

To ensure accurate testing results, care must be taken to avoid injury to the head and/or brain of suspect animals.

Carcasses, heads or whole brains are acceptable submissions for rabies testing at PADLS laboratories. Bats should always be submitted intact for identification purposes. Specimens should be refrigerated (not frozen) as soon as possible after death. If further diagnostic work is to follow a negative rabies test, the laboratory must be informed at the time of submission, to ensure that proper tissues are saved. For safety purposes, no additional tests are performed on specimens after a positive rabies test is received. No part of any animal submitted for rabies testing will be returned, regardless of test results.

Specimen Submission for Rabies Testing
Hand delivery of specimens for rabies testing is recommended when possible. Facilities are available for submitting specimens after hours (weekends or evenings) for processing on the next business day. If hand delivery is not possible, samples may be shipped.

Results The result of rabies testing on the brain is provided to the veterinarian and/or physician associated with the case. If the test is positive, the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services and the Department of Health are also notified. Quarantine of animals, if necessary, is administered by PDA Regional offices. Please contact your regional PDA office with any questions regarding rabies quarantine.

As a leader in animal health testing, PADLS is proud to support the export industry. To provide the most accurate and expedient testing, we encourage exporters to contact us in advance at 717-787-8808 to discuss testing needs and shipment deadlines. This exchange of information allows us to offer the best service.

Submitting specimens for export testing:PADLS performs the serological, microbiological and molecular diagnostic testing required to meet the health requirements for both national and international exports. PADLS strives to assist the client to meet the generally tight test deadline schedules encountered. Therefore, exporters are strongly encouraged to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • PADLS encourages the use of the Electronic Specimen Submission Form (eAAI-11) found under “Forms.”
  • Completed forms should be submitted as an attachment to:
  • Specimens appearing on the submission form should be consecutively numbered and arranged in the shipping box in the same order.
  • Identification numbers should be written clearly or typed.
  • The country of destination should be specified for international exports.
  • Provide both the desired tests and the specific test methodologies to be used.
  • Provide the date of specimen collection.
  • Provide the name of the accredited export veterinarian.
  • Provide a list of the agents to receive results as well as the preferred mode of transmission (email, fax, mail).
  • Provide the name and contact information of the primary billing party.
  • For serum, the lab prefers the 7 ml draw red top or separator Vacutainer® tubes with the blood clot intact.
  • These 7 ml draw tubes should be filled no less than 5 ml of blood.

Regulatory tests (non-export submissions) must be submitted with the appropriate state or federal form (Brucellosis, Equine Infectious Anemia, Johne’s disease, etc). AAI-11 and EIA forms must be ordered through the laboratory.

Suggestions for collecting and handling samples: The quality of the specimen submitted impacts the quality of the results. PADLS reserves the right to determine the suitability of a specimen:

  • Serology specimens: Blood specimens on the clot should be received in the laboratory within one to two days post-collection to avoid hemolysis that could interfere with testing and compromise results. Specimens should be refrigerated and shipped with ice packs. The use of an overnight courier service is recommended to ensure specimen quality.
  • Diagnostic virology specimens: Collect specimens aseptically in the early stages of infection. Refrigerate specimen immediately and hand-carry or ship overnight with ice packs to ensure specimen quality. These tests depend on viable virus in the specimen and must be collected and transported appropriately. Please see the PADLS test charts in this document for specimen collection and transport requirements for specific tests.
  • Biopsies: Tissues should be fixed in 10 times their volume of a 10% formalin solution prior to shipping. Tissues should not exceed 1 cm in thickness. Any container containing formalin must be leak proof. Fully fixed tissues may be drained of excess formalin before shipping.
  • Necropsy: Notify the pathology section before submission of the animal. Please do not submit live animals without prior arrangements. Rabies suspects must be euthanized prior to submission.
  • Bacteriology specimens: Aseptic collection is essential. Use a leak proof container; label with animal identification, collection site and collection date. Specimens for aerobic culture that are NOT in a suitable transport media should be refrigerated and shipped with ice packs. Specimens for anaerobic culture should not be refrigerated. All fluid specimens should be refrigerated and shipped on ice packs. The use of an overnight courier service helps ensure specimen quality.
  • Rabies submission: See Special Services section – Rabies testing.

Note: Specimens accepted by the laboratory become the property of the laboratory and cannot be returned.