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As of October 1st 2017 The Department of Health will no longer test routine human exposure rabies submissions on weekends and holidays.  Samples will be tested Monday through Friday excluding state holidays.  Samples received after 10 am Friday at the Department of Health will be refrigerated and tested the next business day.  See this webpage for further details.  If weekend/Holiday testing is critical, prior approval can be obtained for emergency testing.  Please call your local DOH office before bringing these samples to the Animal Diagnostic Lab.  Phone numbers can be found here.

Samples received at the Animal Diagnostic Lab after the lab closes on Thursday will be shipped Monday for delivery at the Department of Health office on Tuesday.   Please check for holiday closures on the homepage.

For more information:

Human Exposure Rabies Samples - New Protocol

Rabies Courier for Vet Clinics


Human Exposure Rabies Submission Form

Complete this form if:

  • A bite has been inflicted to some part of the body of a human
  • The animal's saliva has made contact with a fresh, open wound, mucous membrane, or the eye of a human
  • Severe scratches by teeth or claws have broken the skin of a human

Rabies testing for human exposure cases is performed at the PA Department of Health, Bureau of Laboratories, 110 Pickering Way, Lionville, PA 19353; 610-280-3464. Samples can be dropped off at The Animal Diagnostic Lab and they will be sent to the PA Department of Health by courier.

For all other submissions, please complete the following form:

Non Human Exposure Rabies Submisson Form

A completed rabies submission form MUST accompany each submission.  Contact with suspect carcasses and samples should be avoided if possible.  If some contact is necessary, gloves should be worn.

Rabies testing for livestock and non-human exposure cases is performed at the Pennsylvania Veterinary Laboratory (PVL) in Harrisburg, telephone number 717-787-8808.

Acceptable specimens

No live animals will be accepted for rabies testing.  If the animal is alive,

  • Livestock and companion animals – contact your local veterinarian for euthanasia
  • Wildlife – contact your local PA Game Commission field officer for capture and euthanasia
  • Stray or feral animals – contact your local animal control officer for capture and euthanasia

To ensure accurate testing results, care must be taken to avoid injury to the head and/or brain of suspect animals. 

Carcasses, heads or whole brains are acceptable submissions for rabies testing at ADL.  Bats should always be submitted intact for identification purposes.  Specimens should be refrigerated (not frozen) as soon as possible after death.  If further diagnostic work is to follow a negative rabies test, the laboratory must be informed at the time of submission, to ensure that proper tissues are saved. For safety purposes, no additional tests are performed on specimens after a positive rabies test is received.  No part of any animal submitted for rabies testing will be returned, regardless of test results.

How to submit specimens for rabies testing

Hand delivery of specimens for rabies testing is recommended when possible. Facilities are available for submitting specimens after hours (weekends or evenings) for processing on the next business day.  If hand delivery is not possible, samples may be shipped.  Please see shipping guidelines for further information.

Samples that are dropped off at the Animal Diagnostic Lab at University Park PA will be shipped by overnight courier to Lionville PA.  Samples will only be shipped on weekdays Monday through Thursday as the Department of Health no longer accepts routine rabies specimens for Saturday delivery.  Samples dropped off in the overnight drop off area will be shipped on the next business day.


Results can be expected 24-72 hours after sample is received at the lab in Lionville.

The result of rabies testing on the brain is provided to the veterinarian and/or physician associated with the case. If the test is positive, the Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services and the Department of Health are also notified. Quarantine of animals, if necessary, is administered by PDA Regional offices.  Please contact your regional PDA office with any questions regarding rabies quarantine.

 Links for additional rabies information:

PA Department of Health / Rabies Fact Sheet

Centers for Disease Control / Rabies information