Submission of Sample

When the decision is made either to euthanize an animal or submit a dead animal for rabies examination, several procedures must be followed to obtain quick and accurate results. Many times rabies prophylaxis in a human or vaccination of an animal is dependent on these results. The U.S. mail is not accepting samples for delivery and United Parcel Service delayed.

Included in this section also is the Rabies Examination Form. It needs to be filled out entirely in order for the accurate interpretation of results. The veterinarian who submits the sample can provide some of the information as well as the animal control official, health official, animal owner and bite victim. Cooperation in this process and sharing of information will give everyone involved a better outcome in any situation.

Maps and phone numbers of Laboratories that can be used for samples are also included.
REMEMBER-only the Rabies laboratory at ISDH can run the test for rabies in an animal. The diagnostic laboratory at Purdue and in Southern Indiana can submit the proper specimen if the animal is being examined for other reasons.

Following suggested guidelines will allow for quick, accurate results and resolution of potentially hazardous situations.



Heads must be removed from carcasses prior to shipment.


Rubber gloves should be worn while the head is being removed and packaged. Gloves should be disposed of after use.


Sever neck so as not to damage the skull. Local veterinarians can perform this task. Allow fluids and blood to drain from the head. Keep head as clean as possible


The shipping container should consist of the following:

One corrugated cardboard shipping carton
One styrofoam liner or container
One plastic bag for specimen (size appropriate) Dry ice or prepared ice packets (like those sent with pharmaceuticals and biologics)
One sealed, plastic bag containing Rabies Report form with history of animal.




Animal history written as completely as possible. The Indiana State Department of Health Rabies Report form should be used. County health departments and veterinary clinics should have a supply of the blank forms.

Report Form Available Online Here:


Name and address of all persons exposed included. Each person is given a copy of the report.


Place this form in the sealed, plastic bag and place in carton on top of liner.




Place the head of the animal in an appropriate size plastic bag and secure the top of the bag.


Place dry ice or ice packs into the styrofoam liner.


Place bag containing head on top of ice, in container, and secure tightly.


Place plastic bag with history on top of the container, seal the shipping box, make sure arrows point up to the top of the box, and indicate RABIES SUSPECT


Fill out mailing label and secure to the top of the box.




The package should be shipped prepaid to:
Indiana State Department of Health; Rabies Laboratory
550 W 16th Street, Suite B
Indianapolis, IN 46202 Telephone:

Do not send to the Purdue Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. If the animal is sent to ADDL for other tests, then indicate that they forward the appropriate sample to the Rabies laboratory.


Use the method of shipment (UPS, bus, hand deliver) that will assure prompt service.


Call the laboratory or switchboard and inform them of probable time of arrival and route of shipment.


Any bite case in which the history reveals a strong probability of rabies should be handled with utmost speed. If possible, hand-deliver such specimens to the laboratory.


Do not ship on weekends unless prior approval has been obtained from the Indiana State Department of Health Laboratory. A resident student is on duty to receive after-hours deliveries. Ring bell or call on phone located at the front door.


The laboratory conducts the fluorescent antibody (FA) test on brains that are satisfactory for examination or mouse inoculation tests on selected specimens when indicated. Results of these tests will be mailed back to the address given on the Rabies Report Form. Positive results will be called immediately to the county health department or agency from which the specimen was shipped, and to physicians and exposed persons. Veterinarians and/or animal control personnel who handled positive animals or carcasses should also be notified as soon as possible. The local health officer or a designated person in the department will be available for consultation in most cases. If not, then telephone contact with the State Department of Health in emergency cases will be in order. The office to contact is

Indiana State Department of Health
550 West 16th Street P.O. Box 1964
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Telephone Number: 317/921-5500

After-Hours Services:

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Rabies Laboratory is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm through the week. Emergencies may arise on weekends or holidays in which immediate rabies testing is indicated. In true emergency situations, the local health officer may coordinate efforts for immediate testing. The Indiana State Police may be able to provide emergency transportation for the head and the ISDH Rabies Lab Technician can be dispatched to perform "stat" testing. The ISDH after-hours duty officer can be contacted at 317/233-1329.