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Specimen Collection Guidelines
  1. Whole bodies: If multiple animals are affected, more than one animal should be submitted.  Up to three agricultural animals, and 5 birds or fish can be accessioned together in the case of a herd health outbreak.  Affected but untreated animals are the most useful diagnostic specimens.  Companion animals are accessioned individually and can be delivered by mail, on ice packs in an insulated, leak-proof container or in person.  Live birds and recently euthanized animals can be delivered to the pathology bay, near the loading dock in the rear of the New Jersey Public Health, Environmental and Agricultural Laboratory (PHEAL) within the New Jersey State Police Headquarters. The lab is located at 3 Schwarzkopf Dr Ewing, NJ 08628.  Please refer to specimen drop-off procedure for more information.
  2. Organs and Tissues: Fresh and formalin fixed tissues should be submitted separately. Tissues should be collected and preserved as directed in the fee schedule for the test requested.  In general, fresh tissues should be placed in a sterile, leak proof container and maintained at a cool temperature (preferably on ice packs in Styrofoam shipping cooler) until received by the laboratory.  Fixed tissues submitted for histopathological evaluation should be preserved in a 10% neutral buffered formalin solution and submitted at a 1:10 tissue:formalin ratio in a leak-proof container. 
  3. Blood, Fluids, Feces and Swabs: Follow the instructions under ‘Specimen Type" and "Container(s)" for the test requested as outlined on the NJDA AHDL Fee Schedule.  In warm weather, blood samples will rapidly undergo hemolysis.  During warmer months it is advised to ship blood specimens in a container with ice packs so the specimens are kept cool until receipt by the laboratory. 
  1. Aerobic culture: Swabs for aerobic culture should be shipped in a transport media such as Amies transport media, Copan swabs or Stuart media. Swabs should be shipped refrigerated.
  2. Anaerobic culture: Swab specimens need to be shipped in thioglycolate broth, anaerobic transport media or a Port-a Cul. The Copan E swab can be used to maintain viability of anaerobic, aerobic, and fastidious bacteria. It is a good alternative if both aerobic and anaerobic culture is required. Specimens for anaerobic culture should not be refrigerated.
  3. Bacterial isolates: Bacterial isolates may be shipped refrigerated on a sealed agar slant or plate.
  4. Direct microscopic examination: Specimens for direct microscopic stains may be sent in Amies transport media, sterile container or slide mailer.
  5. Diarrhea: For cases of acute diarrhea, a fecal sample delivered to the lab within 24 hours does not require transport media. A minimum of 2 grams of feces in a specimen cup should be submitted. If the specimens cannot be delivered within 24 hours after collection, rectal swabs should be placed in Amies transport media with charcoal and feces should be placed in a fecal preservative (e.g. buffered glycerol saline solution or Cary Blair media). Refrigeration is not necessary.
  6. Johnes culture: At least 2 grams of feces should be collected directly from rectum of each individual cow. Specimens should be kept cold, but not frozen.
  7. Leptospira MAT serology: Submit 2 ml of serum on ice packs. Paired serum is requested to demonstrate rise in titer.
  8. Listeria culture: Brains should be sent in sterile container refrigerated or frozen over dry ice.
  9. Milk: Milk is best submitted in sterile containers without any additives on ice.
  10. Skin scrapings: Submit skin scrapings/hair for fungal identification in a sealed envelope enclosed in another protective container. Do not ship them in vacutainer tubes, where moisture may build up causing contaminating fungi to overgrow the pathogen.
Molecular (PCR) Tests
  1. Cotton-tipped or calcium alginate swabs may not be used as residues present in these materials inhibit PCR assays. The swab tips may be polyester (such as Dacron), rayon, or nylon-flocked.
  2. Bacterial PCR swabs can be submitted in saline. Swabs submitted in bacterial transport media (Amies, Port-a-cul, etc) are not appropriate for PCR testing.
  3. Viral samples can be submitted in Brain Heart Infusion broth (BHI), viral transport media (VTM) or in saline.
  4. Blood samples should be in a purple top tube (PTT) or red top tube (RTT). Refer to individual PCR test for required tube.
  5. Tissue may be submitted in a sterile sealed container.
  6. Refrigerate specimens during shipment. Freeze viral specimens if significant delay in submission of specimen to the laboratory is anticipated.
Serology/Virology Tests
  1. At least 1-2 ml of serum or 2-5 ml of blood submitted in a clean red top tube is required for serology testing.
  2. Since hemolysis can affect the quality of testing, please spin down the blood and submit on ice packs.
  3. The presence of gross turbidity, hemolysis or bacterial growth may interfere with the performance and accuracy of tests.
  4. Serum specimens intended for equine infectious anemia testing may be stored at 2-7oC for up to five days. If longer storage is desired, store at -20oC and submit frozen specimen.
  5. Specimens for virus isolation should be submitted in viral transport media. Refrigerate specimens for virus isolation for short duration. Freeze viral specimens if significant delay in submission of specimen to the laboratory is anticipated.

Form detailed information regarding shipping, please see Specimen Shipping Instructions and FAQs and follow the instructions outlined in the NJDA AHDL Fee Schedule.