Collection Principles

Sample submission and transport requirements

A laboratory that does diagnostic tests on animal samples can only produce accurate and reliable results if the correct samples are submitted and the appropriate tests are requested. The packaging and transport of samples are of paramount importance to assure safe handling of the samples by transport and courier services and assuring the safety of the staff sending/despatching, receiving and handling the samples. This is important in preventing contamination and exposure to potentially infectious or irritant material that may affect the client, transport personnel and laboratory staff.

Unacceptable samples and sample containers are: fluid samples in syringes, fresh or formalin fixed tissue in plastic bags, samples in latex or obstetric gloves, containers without sealable lids, air dried smears packaged with fresh or formalin tissues where leakage may occur, samples in formalin where the volume of the sample/s to 10% buffered formalin is less than 1:10.

Step 1

Good communication with laboratory personnel (please make use of the request forms supplied by the laboratory). Contact the laboratory when you are uncertain of the specimen type and correct sample/s to be collected for specific tests.

Step 2

Detailed case history (Owner, name and address, animal identification including name/number, species, breed, age, sex, clinical history including any lesions present (in clinical as well as post mortem examinations), treatment, recurrence of lesions, mortality and morbidity if groups of animals are affected, suspected diagnosis.Indicate if a possible zoonosis is suspected)

Step 3

The request or submission form should be placed in a sealed waterproof bag (please use the PathCare specimen bags and place the form into the outer pocket after sample has been sealed in the “Ziplock” bag). For fresh samples or samples with a lot of fluid, double or triple sealed containers are advised.

Step 4

Use waterproof markers to identify the samples (animal ID, sample type and site where removed from, must be written on the container).

Step 5

Avoid the use of breakable containers.

Step 6

Principles of shipping of samples:

a) Use sturdy containers clearly labelled as biological diagnostic samples with the correct delivery address of the laboratory concerned. It is preferable to place “Styrofoam” containers within cardboard boxes. Labels should be placed on the outside of the cardboard box as well as on the “Styrofoam” box. If needed absorbent material should be placed around the “Styrofoam” box to absorb any leakage of fluids or formalin.

b) Liquid samples should not be shipped in plastic bags. Sealable jars and tubes must be used and sealed with tape.

c) When sending samples on ice, ensure that the ice blocks are intact and sealed in plastic bags and that they will not crush the sample containers during transit.

Step 7

Cross contamination of samples for microbiology and molecular tests should be avoided. Use a separate set of instruments if more than one sample type is collected.

Step 8

Avoid containers treated with detergents that were not thoroughly rinsed.