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  Home > Submission Guidelines > Submission for Rabies Testing

Submission for Rabies Testing

Specimen Information

Companion animals should be euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. Whole bodies of dogs, cats, ferrets, skunks, bats and other small animals may be sent intact. Bats may be delivered alive during regular VDL business hours as long as they are well contained, the container is marked “Live Bat for Rabies Testing,” and the bat is hand delivered, not shipped. Unless a full necropsy is to be performed, ship only the heads of large animals such as cows, horses and pigs. If the brain is removed by a veterinary professional, the entire brain should be sent, including the cerebrum with hippocampus, cerebellum and brain stem. Bilateral samples must be tested as unilateral rabies infection of large animals has been reported.

It is imperative that brain samples not be fixed in chemical preservatives. Keep the specimen chilled, not frozen, until shipped. However, samples that have been inadvertently frozen can often yield satisfactory results. Grossly deteriorated specimens will not be tested.

Reptiles, amphibians and birds are not susceptible to rabies, and these animals are not tested for it. Small rodents (hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice, gophers, etc.), insectivores (moles and shrews), and lagomorphs (hares and rabbits) DO NOT pose a risk for rabies in Minnesota. MDH strongly discourages testing them for rabies.


There is a $26.25 fee for testing of all specimens and a 10% additional charge for out of state submissions. Any costs associated with euthanasia, specimen preparation, packing, shipping, testing and individual cremation are the responsibility of the person requesting the examination.


Whenever possible, specimens should be hand delivered. If this is not possible, ship by a direct overnight delivery service (such as Fed Ex). For next business day results, a specimen must be received at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) by 11:00 a.m. Specimens should not be sent by mail.

Specimens from suspect rabies animals should be delivered to:

Business hours
(M-F, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

Minnesota Veterinary
Diagnostic Laboratory
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Minnesota
1333 Gortner Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
Fax: 612-624-8707
 Non-business hours and holidays*
Veterinary Medical Center, emergency receiving
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Minnesota
1365 Gortner Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
612-625-9711 (emergency receiving)
*Live bats will not be accepted after business hours. Notify personnel that it is a suspect rabies case

Packing Requirements:

  • Specimens should be chilled (not frozen) until ready to ship.
  • Double bag specimens in heavy, leak-proof plastic bags and seal securely.
  • Ship in a leak-proof container, preferably a Styrofoam box with cardboard exterior.
  • Leak-proof freezer packs should be included in the shipping container to keep the specimen cold. Do not pack in wet ice or dry ice.
  • Newspaper or other absorbent packing material should be used to fill space within the container to ensure temperature stability and to absorb fluids in case of leakage.
  • Complete the Rabies Submission Form, place in a plastic bag and attached securely to the outside of the specimen container.
  • Label the exterior of the box, "Veterinary Diagnostic Specimen".

Handling of Animal Remains

The VDL does not provide individual cremation services. Animal remains will be processed using mass chemical cremation, unless arrangements for private cremation are made by the client or the client's veterinarian. Once results of all tests are known, animals testing negative for rabies may be released to a private cremation service. Animals testing positive for rabies will NOT be released for cremation due to risk of disease transmission.  If the rabies status cannot be determined by testing due to an unsatisfactory sample, release of remains for individual cremation will be decided on a case by case basis.

General Information

Minnesota Department of Health Rabies Laboratory business hours are:
M-F: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Phone: 651-201-5200

Physicians and veterinarians may obtain information on rabies, including human exposure, prophylaxis, and bite management from the Acute Disease Investigation and Control Section. (651-201-5414; 24-hour answering service).














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