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Instructions for Submitting Diagnostic Specimens to the DVBD Arbovirus Diagnostic Laboratory

CDC Submission Form

Please read these instructions for sending diagnostic specimens to CDC. Complete a CDC submission form (CDC 50.34) CDC Data and Specimen Handling (DASH) section form 50.34 for submission of laboratory specimens.

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
  4. the patient’s name and/or unique ID and 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” from the drop-down menu
  3. Original Submitter e-mail field (located on 1st page, middle right box), type your e-mail address  
  4. Brief clinical summary (located on 2nd 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, 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 site 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:
Specimen Timing
Acute 3 to 10 days after onset of symptoms
Convalescent 2-3 weeks after acute sample
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. For virus isolation and/or nucleic acid amplification testing, acceptable specimens are fresh frozen tissue, serum, or cerebrospinal fluid. Tissue specimens should be approximately 1 cm3, frozen as soon as possible at -70ºC, and shipped on enough dry ice so that specimens remain frozen until received. Formalin-fixed specimens are not tested at DVBD and can be submitted to the Special Pathogens Laboratory in Atlanta, GA for immunohistochemistry:

    Infectious Disease Pathology Branch
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (MS-G32)
    1600 Clifton Rd, NE
    Atlanta, GA 30333

Testing Results

Given the current volume of samples, test results will not be available for at least 3 weeks after specimen receipt. 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 IgG ELISA (as appropriate for clinical presentation). 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 HEALTH DEPARTMENT. Specimens should NOT be submitted directly to CDC. All submissions should go through your state or local health department.

Shipping Address

Send all specimens to:

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

Further Assistance

Additional assistance may be obtained from the DVBD Arbovirus Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory at 970-221-6400.