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Rabies Testing

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A rabies specimen is irreplaceable. The following instructions are designed to assist you in preparing and packaging your specimen for shipment to the laboratory for examination. Please prepare and pack your specimen carefully! Specimens that decompose in transit are not suitable for testing.

Handling and Shipping Specimens 

The Arkansas Department of Health Laboratory has assembled shipping containers consisting of plastic buckets with lids and Styrofoam insulation, leak-proof zip lock bags, and cold packs, with a cardboard surround, for use in packaging and transporting the specimen to the rabies laboratory. These shipping containers are provided to every county's Local Health Unit. Each county Local Health Unit also has a courier that will bring the specimen to the Public Health Laboratory in Little Rock at no charge.

The head of the animal must be removed without damaging the brain (see Preparation of Rabies Specimen document), preferably by a trained person such as a veterinarian or animal control officer. The person removing the head must protect themselves during the head removal process so they do not get any contact with animal fluids. Place specimen in the leak-proof, zip lock bag provided in the shipping container. Chill specimen in a refrigerator prior to packaging for shipment. It is extremely important that the specimen remains cool until it arrives at the laboratory. Cooling the specimen prior to shipment helps slow down decomposition. Advanced specimen decomposition prevents laboratory detection of the rabies virus.

Immediately before shipment place the chilled specimen and at least two (2) cold packs (ice substitutes – do not use wet or dry ice) inside the Styrofoam insulator in the plastic shipping container and place the lid on the Styrofoam bucket. The completed rabies examination form (HL-12) should be placed on top of the Styrofoam lid. Do not place the form inside the Styrofoam container with the specimen. Seal the plastic shipping container with the plastic lid. For large specimens, it is advisable to use more than two cold packs. Place your return address label and the Arkansas Department of Health address label on the plastic shipping container before transporting. Deliver the specimen as soon as possible to your county Local Health Unit. Alternately, the specimen can be shipped using FedEx's next-day delivery.

If you have questions concerning the care of bitten humans, immunization, and quarantine of animals, call the State Public Health Veterinarian at (501) 661-2381, or after normal working hours, call the Emergency Communications Center at (800) 633-1735.

Rabies Testing Web Portal Submission Form
Steps for Preparation of Rabies Samples
Rabies Specimen Delivery

Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
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4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867