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Rabies

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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

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 human exposure cases is performed at the PA Department of Health, Bureau of Laboratories, 110 Pickering Way, Lionville, PA 19353; 610-280-3464

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.

Results

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