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Specimen Submission Guidelines

ADRDL Specimen Submission

Microbiologist testing specimens

What is a Diagnostic Specimen? Any animal or animal material, including excreta, secreta, blood and its components, tissue, and tissue fluids being transported for diagnostic or investigational purposes. This may also include any environmental sample or other pertinent material to a case such as plants, grains, feeds, water, or chemicals.

Mailing and Shipping Address:
Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory
Department of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences
North Campus Drive - Box 2175
South Dakota State University
Brookings, SD  57007-1396


Directions to Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory
From Interstate 29, take Exit 133. Turn west onto HWY 14 Bypass and travel to first stoplight. Turn left (or south) onto Medary Ave. At the first opportunity, move into the left-hand turn lane and turn left (or east) onto North Campus Drive. The ADRDL is the second building on the left (north side of the road.)

Recommended specimens for submission:

  • Live, sick animals: Early in the clinical stages of disease live sick animals are often the specimens of choice. Clients should deliver such animals directly to the laboratory during office hours. Livestock will be humanely euthanized before necropsy. The laboratory will not accept live companion animals (includes horses); instead they should be euthanized by a veterinarian immediately prior to delivery to the laboratory.
  • Carcasses: Minimize postmortem change in dead animals by promptly delivering to the laboratory. Assure that the body secretions are contained enroute to the laboratory.
  • Necropsy on the farm: In many cases, the local veterinarian may conduct the necropsy on the farm site (when the animal cannot be brought to the laboratory). The veterinarian may then ship the appropriate samples: preferably both fresh and formalin-fixed tissues, to the diagnostic laboratory.

Transport / shipment of specimens by mail

Serum Samples
  • Label (e.g. animal owner, animal ID, herd / barn / lot ID) and pack specimens in leak proof container, such as a urine cup or whirl pack bag, to prevent cross contamination. Remember that formalin will leak through Ziploc bags, resulting in cross contamination of fresh specimens. Please do not submit fecal specimens in gloves.
  • If protected from breakage, single-use vacuum blood-collection tubes are satisfactory, but the use of snap-cap or screw cap tubes may give more security from leakage. It is critical that the tubes are completely snapped or screwed shut. Also if all of a small sample leaks it means a loss of revenue for you and an inconvenience for the client.
  • Put all specimens in a secondary leak proof container with absorbent material capable of absorbing all of the spill if it were to occur (such as a larger plastic bag with absorbent) before enclosing them in a leak proof outer container such as a Styrofoam cooler.
  • The ADRDL sells shipping cartons (cardboard protected Styrofoam coolers, maximum capacity 4 kg or 4 L; compliant for "Diagnostic Specimens" per USPS). If placing more than one case / samples from different owners in a shipping carton, separate them by larger plastic bags. Guarded culture swabs may be shipped in their original receptacles that are placed in an appropriate package.
  • Please enclose the submission form in a plastic bag and put it between the PRIMARY RECEPTACLE and the SECONDARY PACKAGE. In ADRDL shipping cartons, there is an envelope for the submission form on the inside lid.
  • When shipping samples to the lab, the goal should be a maximum of 48 hours total transit time. Therefore, it is best not to ship samples on Fridays or before long weekends/holidays. Samples that are required to be kept cool should be packed with enough coolant to last the entire time in transit.
  • Diagnostic specimens shipped through public carriers (e.g. UPS, USPS / Fed Ex / SpeeDee Delivery etc.) should be packed in compliance with current applicable shipping regulations. The Shipper is responsible for compliance with such regulations.  AVMA Required Training for Packaging and Shipping Lab Specimens.
  • During regular laboratory hours: Walk-in to delivery of specimens is always available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday excluding state and federal holidays. When these holidays fall on the weekend, the following Monday is typically celebrated as the holiday.
  • After hours / weekends / legal holidays: There is a small exterior cooler that is accessible to the public 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is suitable for dropping off specimen boxes, serology samples, or small dead animals (<125 lbs.) after hours. It is the responsibility of the client to identify such samples and leave a completed submission form. Forms and animal ID tags are available in a steel box on the wall adjacent to the cooler. The samples will not be processed by the laboratory without the completed submission form.
  • After-hours emergency necropsy: A veterinary pathologist is on call after hours for emergencies @ 605-690-1576. The on-call pathologist will review the case and consult with the referring DVM and animal owner when determining the necessity of an after hours necropsy. It will be necessary for the client to consult with the on-call pathologist to arrange delivery of any large animals requiring the hoist and access to the large interior storage cooler. (Animal owners should always consult their local veterinarians about treatment options).