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Factsheet courtesy of the CDC.

Submitting Specimens for Diagnostic Ebola Testing to the CDC

Specimens that are suspect for Ebola must be submitted to the CDC or one of the laboratories that are part of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) for testing. Before contacting the CDC, laboratories should follow their state and/or local health department procedures for notification and consultation for Ebola testing requests.
For patients in the early stages of the disease, the CDC confirms EVD using the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay, but virus isolation may also be attempted. The Ebola virus can only be detected after the patient exhibits symptoms, generally reaching detectable levels within 3-10 days after the patient becomes symptomatic.
Preferred Specimen
The CDC's preferred specimen is 4.0 mL (minimum) of EDTA whole blood in a plastic specimen collection tube. Alternative whole blood specimens that are also acceptable include the use of sodium polyanethol sulfonate (SPS), citrate, or whole blood with clot activator. When submitting specimens to the CDC, it is important to note that:
  • Glass specimen collection tubes should NOT be submitted.
  • Tubes containing heparin should NOT be submitted.
  • Do NOT centrifuge or attempt to remove serum or plasma from the specimen tubes.
  • Do NOT open the collection tubes.
  • Do NOT aliquot the specimens.
  • If submitting specimens other than blood, CONSULT the CDC by contacting the Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100.
  • The CDC will NOT accept specimens without prior consultation.
Specimens should be transported to the CDC at 2-8º C or frozen on cold-packs.

Ebola-lab-guidance [click to view / print]

Adobe Acrobat PDF file