FAQs & Additional Information for Diagnostic Submissions

View the following topics for additional information and frequently asked questions relating to diagnostic submissions.

If your questions are not answered on this page, contact SCWDS via email (SCWDS@UGA.edu) or phone (706) 542-1741.

FAQs & Information by Topic

General Submission Guidelines
  • Please see the Shipping Guidelines on the website for more detailed information about sample shipment.
  • Please completely fill out the submission paperwork.
    • Please fill in as completely as possible; if an answer is unknown, please indicate so.
  • Fresh tissues and carcasses should be shipped with sufficient numbers of ice packs, positioned so as not to crush smaller carcasses or samples. Avoid packaging formalin-fixed tissues with ice packs, as this can affect microscopic evaluation of these tissues.
  • Whenever possible, avoid shipping severely autolyzed carcasses. See the Carcass Quality Guide in the Sample Shipping dropdown for more guidance.
  • In general, we strongly prefer whole carcasses to allow us to make a more complete and holistic evaluation; however, we recognize that some circumstances do not permit this and there may be rationale for necropsying on-site (such as more rapid collection into formalin for highly valuable samples).
  • If a necropsy was performed prior to submission, formalin-fixing tissues of interest as soon as possible helps decrease post-mortem changes that affect microscopic evaluation.
    • Tissues should be collected in formalin immediately, unless tissues are cold/frozen, in which they should first be allowed to thaw prior to placing in formalin.
    • Ideally, the ratio of formalin to tissue should be approximately 10:1. For shipping, tissues can be fixed first, then later transferred to a leak-proof container with a smaller volume of formalin.
    • Submitting both formalin-fixed tissues and fresh/refrigerated/chilled/frozen tissues is ideal.
Field Necropsy Sample Submission
  • Ideal samples include formalin-fixed and fresh, refrigerated/frozen:
    • Brain (fresh and formalin-fixed) or head (fresh)
    • Lung
    • Spleen
    • Heart
    • Kidney
    • Liver
    • Gastrointestinal tract (e.g., stomach compartments, small and large intestines)
    • Any lesions of interest including those listed above as well as other tissues, e.g., adrenal gland, reproductive organs, skin, bone marrow, tongue, skeletal muscle, lymph nodes near sites of any lesions, limbs, eyes, etc.
  • Please submit any photos of lesions or significant findings from the field or necropsy, when able.
  • For cases where there is concern for toxins, extra fresh liver, kidney, stomach contents, and brain are recommended samples. In some cases, samples collected from the environment may be relevant (e.g., any suspicious bait piles or tainted carcasses). If a specific toxin is of concern, you may wish to speak to a diagnostician before shipment, as they may be able to recommend the ideal samples to collect for that case.
  • If submitting cassettes with formalin-fixed tissues:
    • Label with appropriate formalin-proof pen and ensure writing is legible.
    • Cassettes should be submitted in secure formalin containers and formalin should completely cover the cassettes.
    • Screw-top lid formalin jars are preferred and parafilm or similar material can help seal the tops and prevent leaking.
    • Jars should be surrounded with absorbent material (e.g., paper towel) in case of leaks and should be kept in a sealed plastic bag.
    • Include a reference list of cassettes submitted and what tissues they contain.
  • If there are any questions about what samples to submit, please call or email SCWDS for assistance.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing
  • Ideal samples are the entire head or both retropharyngeal lymph nodes and obex. For deer, retropharyngeal lymph nodes alone can be tested. For elk, obex and retropharyngeal lymph nodes (or the entire head), should be submitted.
  • SCWDS does not routinely test captive or feral cervids for CWD. Exceptions can be made (e.g., for illegal movement across state lines). In such a case, please consult with a diagnostician prior to sending.
General Parasite (including tick) identification
  • Please specify whether the case is a clinical/diagnostics case or for a special/research project.
  • Please specify the anatomic location where the parasite was found (e.g. within the small intestine, within the back muscles etc.) and any other pertinent information.
  • For submission of just a parasite for identification, the parasite should be submitted in 70% ethanol.
Hemorrhagic Disease testing
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus testing

Please see the our avian influenza submissions section on the sample submission guidelines page and recent SCWDS email memos for up-to-date details.

Lymphoproliferative Disease/Reticuloendotheliosis Viruses testing
  • Ideal samples for testing include fresh or frozen liver, spleen, and bone marrow; only a small sample (1/2 cm3) of each is needed for molecular testing.
  • We routinely screen all submitted wild turkeys whenever full carcasses or the appropriate samples are submitted.
Mange testing
  • For smaller animals (e.g., foxes), the entire carcass can be submitted.
  • For larger animals (e.g., bears) where the entire carcass cannot be submitted, please submit large samples of fresh skin for testing. Pieces from multiple sites and areas of transition from abnormal to more normal skin are ideal.
Ophidiomyces ophidiicola (Snake Fungal Disease) testing
  • We recommend submitting the entire carcass so we can closely examine the skin and viscera for suspicious lesions to sample, which can be subtle. In cases where the whole carcass cannot be submitted (e.g., sample from a live snake), submission of fresh skin lesions (e.g., affected scale(s)) is recommended. If the sample is large enough, half can be submitted fresh and half can be submitted in 10% neutral-buffered formalin. If no formalin is available, or the sample is small, fresh tissues are fine.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV2) testing
  • The ideal sample is the entire rabbit carcass, especially in states where tularemia is of concern as there is zoonotic risk to opening the carcass outside of a laboratory setting. Otherwise, a fresh liver sample is preferred (entire liver or a portion is fine).
Rabies testing
  • If there is human exposure (e.g., bite/scratch), consultation with local public health officials will determine where the carcass should be sent. Please do this prior to contacting SCWDS. In many cases, the head and/or carcass should be sent to a public health laboratory for rabies testing. Once there is a negative rabies result, the carcass (if saved) can then be shipped to SCWDS.
  • If you choose to submit to SCWDS for complete carcass evaluation, please make sure the history clearly describes any and all potential human and/or domestic animal exposure, and the decision of the consulted public health department. If unknown, please follow up with whoever initially reported the case.
  • For cases of neurologic mammals without human exposures, submission of the entire carcass (e.g., bats, foxes, raccoons, skunks) or of the head (e.g. deer) is recommended.
Toxicology testing
  • Submissions are tested on a per case basis. Please provide as much information as possible. Of particular importance to note are possible toxins in the area (e.g., rodenticide usage, pest control methods, herbicides, etc.), the environment in which the animal(s) was found (e.g. farm, urban area, etc.), size of area affected, number of species (and quantity of each) affected, timeline of observations, and any suspected toxins of specific concern. Toxicology testing is very expensive and no test can detect all toxins; narrowing the list of toxins of concern helps the SCWDS diagnostics team and collaborating toxicologists decide what tests to prioritize. This is especially helpful in cases with smaller animals or one or few animals affected, as there may not be sufficient fresh tissue to run multiple tests.
  • If multiple small animals (e.g., passerines) are affected, submit multiple birds so that enough liver and other organs are available to make up a large enough pooled sample for toxicology. Contact the diagnostician to help determine an appropriate number of carcasses, in cases with large scale die-offs.
  • For brevetoxin testing, whole carcasses or samples of liver/kidney/lung/stomach contents/plasma/serum are ideal.
  • Eagles are routinely screened for heavy metals. Anticoagulant rodenticide and other toxicology tests are done on a case-by-case basis. If there is consistent history or clinical concern, please make sure to include this information on the submission form.
  • If suspicious samples in the environment are found (bait piles or other potential consumed items), please bag separately and send these as well.
White Nose Syndrome (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) testing
  • Ideally, submission of the entire bat carcass is recommended. If unavailable, additional samples to submit include swabs of the skin over the muzzle and wing membranes (for Pd detection only; not disease). Swabs can be stored in dry, individual containers/vials and kept refrigerated or frozen prior to sending.
  • SCWDS does not test environmental or guano samples for Pd.

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