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Instructions for Submitting Diagnostic Specimens for Testing by the Rickettsial Reference Diagnostic Laboratory

Our laboratory serves as a national reference diagnostic laboratory for diseases due to rickettsial agents and associated pathogens. Our testing is provided free-of- charge to approved agencies. These diseases can be rapidly progressive, so prompt treatment of the patient should not be delayed while waiting upon our test results. If you require standard testing services, a number of commercial laboratories offer many of the rickettsial tests.

Specimen Submission Guidelines

  1. Samples should be sent through your state public health laboratory or with their approval. Final reports of test results are returned to the state public health laboratory who is responsible for providing these reports to the primary submitter.
  2. Specimens must be accompanied by the CDC Specimen Submission Form (CDC 50.34). Separate forms should be submitted for each test requested (i.e., serology, PCR, immunohistochemistry, culture) for an individual patient. Specimen submission forms must include:
    • Patient name, sex, and birthdate
    • Date of illness onset
    • Date of specimen collection
    • Specimen type (e.g., serum, whole blood, tissue, etc.)
    • Shipping medium, if applicable (e.g., saline, formalin, etc.)
    • Test requested (see test codes below)
    • Brief clinical summary (including details of antibiotic therapy and dates) and pertinent clinical findings
    • Brief travel and exposure history (including animals, arthropods, etc.)
    • Submitting physician/organization, complete return address, and contact numbers
    • Samples for immunohistochemistry should include a copy of any existing pathology
  3. Samples should be sent directly to the Specimen Triage and Tracking (STAT) lab at this address:
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    ATTN: Reference Diagnostic Laboratory, Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch (unit 78)
    1600 Clifton Road, NE
    Atlanta, GA 30329-4027
  4. Packages should be mailed for receipt Tuesday-Friday, and should take into consideration U.S. Federal holidays. Exceptions can be made for urgent samples with prior approval.
  5. Test codes for rickettsial samples
    Anaplasma Serology CDC-10292
    Anaplasma and Ehrlichia Molecular Detection CDC-10290
    Anaplasma and Ehrlichia Special Study CDC-10291
    Coxiella burnetii Serology CDC-10305
    Coxiella burnetii Molecular Detection CDC-10304
    Coxiella Special Study CDC-10306
    Ehrlichia Serology CDC-10311
    Orientia Molecular Detection CDC-10359
    Orientia Serology CDC-10360
    Rickettsia Molecular Detection CDC-10402
    Rickettsia Serology Spotted Fever Group (RMSF) Serology CDC-10403
    Rickettsia Serology Typhus Group Serology CDC-10404
    Ricksettsia Special Study CDC-10405

For questions, please call the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch at (404) 639-1075 or email.