Rabies Specimen Submission Form - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Rabies Specimen Submission Form

Updated 6/22/2015

Species of animal to be tested:

Companion animals should be euthanized by a veterinarian. Live bats will be accepted during normal business hours only; they should be hand delivered and labeled “Live Bat for Rabies Testing.” Small rodents (hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, gophers, etc.), insectivores (moles and shrews), and lagomorphs (hares and rabbits) do not pose a risk for rabies in Minnesota, and should not be submitted for testing. For guidance on unusual situations involving bites from these animals, please call 651-201-5414. Reptiles, amphibians, and birds are not susceptible to rabies and will not be tested for it.

Specimen preparation

Complete, bilateral samples of brain stem, hippocampus, and cerebellum are required for rabies testing. If possible, submit the head of large animals and the entire body of small animals. When submitting only the brain, submit the entire brain. Submit fresh, chilled tissues only; do not fix the brain in chemical preservatives. Refrigerate, do not freeze specimens for rabies testing prior to shipping. However, if specimens have been inadvertently frozen, they may yield satisfactory results; do not thaw them prior to shipping.

Packing requirements

  • Chill specimen prior to packing for hand delivery or shipping by overnight carrier. Specimens that have been packed for delivery while still warm may arrive in unsatisfactory condition for rabies testing due to autolysis.
  • Double bag and securely seal specimen in heavy, leak-proof plastic bags. Place in a leak-proof container, preferably a Styrofoam box with a cardboard exterior.
  • Include leak-proof freezer packs in sufficient number to keep the specimen cold during transit. During the summer months particularly, many samples arrive at the VDL warm and in unsatisfactory condition for rabies testing.
  • Fill any remaining space within the container with newspaper or other absorbent packing material to absorb fluids in case of leakage.
  • Complete this form, place in a plastic bag and attach to the outside of the specimen container.
  • Label the exterior of the box, “Veterinary Diagnostic Specimen.”

Delivery instructions

Whenever possible, specimens should be hand delivered. If hand delivery is not possible, ship by an overnight delivery service (such as FedEx). For next day results, specimens must be received at the VDL by 11:00 a.m. Specimens should never be sent by mail – even Priority mail. There is a fee of $26.25 for testing with an additional 10% charge for out-of-state submission. Charges associated with euthanasia, specimen preparation, packaging, shipping and testing are the responsibility of the person requesting the rabies testing. Questions about specimen submission should be directed to the VDL.

Specimens from suspect rabies animals should be delivered to:

  • Business hours
    (M-F, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
    Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
    University of Minnesota-St. Paul Campus
    1333 Gortner Avenue
    St. Paul, MN  55108
    Phone: 612-625-8787

  • Non-business hours and holidays
    Veterinary Medical Center-Emergency Receiving
    University of Minnesota-St Paul Campus
    1365 Gortner Avenue
    St. Paul, MN  55108
    Phone: 612-625-9711
    *Live bats will not be accepted after business hours.
    Notify personnel that it is a suspect rabies case

Cremation Services

  • Animal remains will be processed using mass chemical cremation unless arrangements for individual cremation are made by the client or the client’s veterinarian. Please indicate individual or mass cremation on the rabies specimen submission form by checking the box. Once the test result is known, an animal testing negative for rabies may be released to a private cremation service. An animal that tests positive for rabies will not be released for cremation due to the risk of human exposure. If an animal is untestable for any reason, remains may be released on a case by case basis.


Physicians and veterinarians may obtain information on rabies, including human exposure, prophylaxis, and bite management from the Acute Disease Investigation and Control Section. (651-201-5414; 24-hour answering service)

Unusual circumstances should be discussed with the MDH Acute Disease Investigation and Control Section prior to submission of the animal for testing (651-201-5414).

Updated Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 08:12AM