Brief Description

The Laboratory currently uses the Fluorescent Antibody (FA) methodology, the most accurate microscopic test available for the diagnosis of rabies. 

Laboratory Unit



Fluorescent Antibody (FA)

Specimen Collection

  • Whole animal head:
    • Avoid damage to the brain. Do not shoot or crush the skull. Have a qualified individual remove the animal head from the body.  Do not ship whole animals except for bats and small rodents.
  • Whole animal:
    • Bats and small rodents only.
  • Brain Tissue:
    • At least two identifiable principal brain parts. Brain stem cross section. Cerebellum or hippocampus cross section


  • Package the animal head so that it does not leak. Allow excess blood to drain before placing the head in the shipping container. Properly package the specimen by placing the severed animal head in a double plastic bag and secure the bag by twisting and knotting. 
  • Use freeze packs ONLY as refrigerant (2-8 °C) in the shipping container. Never put ice in a rabies mailing container.
  • Only for special delivery - Notify the laboratory of the shipment or expected arrival of all rabies specimens so that tracking can be initiated immediately.
  • Download this pdf file. FRM-QA 4 Refrigeration Outfit Guide

Acceptable Specimen Type(s)

  • Whole animal head
  • Whole animal (small rodents and bats)
  • Brain tissue (horizontal cut – left and right included)

Test Request

Possible Results

  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Unsatisfactory (with appropriate comments included)
  • Intermediate (confirmation with CDC)

Reference Range


Unacceptable Conditions

  • There is no documented exposure to humans or domestic animals
  • Brain tissue damaged or decomposed beyond recognition of at least two principal parts
  • Decomposed left or right cross section of stem or cerebellum of the brain
  • Tissue in preservative, such as formalin
  • Missing written testing requisition
  • Missing minimum of 2 patient identifiers
  • Improper labeling
  • Improper storage/transport of specimen
  • Wrong specimen type

Interfering Substances

Chemical fixation (e.g., formalin), gross decay and deterioration.

Result Reported

1-2 business days


Download this pdf file. Fee schedule

LOINC/Order Codes

6532-6 (Order code: 1300 Decatur, W60000 Waycross)