Rabies testing instructions


Test method

Direct immunofluorescent antibody assay (DFA) for the qualitative detection of Rabies virus antigen.

Specimen requirements

  • Bats: Submit the entire dead animal.

  • Dogs, cats, skunks, raccoons, and similarly sized animals: Submit only the head.

  • Livestock: The brain should be removed and submitted.

Specimen storage

  • Specimen must be refrigerated immediately and held at 35‐40°F until shipped.






Packaging and shipping

  • Each specimen must be properly labeled and include a completed CDPHE requisition form #272 with the specimen type and test indicated. Under “Test Order” check the box next to “RABIES”.

  • Double‐bag (in plastic) each specimen individually and label with the collection ID # and sealed in an inner waterproof container with cold packs. No dry or wet ice. Please keep current weather conditions in mind and include enough cold packs to keep specimens cold for 48 hours.

  • Place inner packaging inside an outer shipping container.

  • Place the laboratory request form(s) in the outer shipping container.

  • Send via CDPHE courier service or ship by overnight delivery to:

CDPHE Laboratory Services Division

8100 E Lowry Blvd

Denver, CO 80230

Unsatisfactory specimen

  • Specimen with liquefied or un‐identifiable brain structure or extreme maggot infestation are not suitable for testing.


Testing schedule

Testing is performed daily Monday‐Friday. Results are reported within 24 hours of specimen receipt Monday‐Friday.

  • Specimen received before 11 a.m. are processed that day.

  • Specimen received after 11 a.m. are run the following workday, except in incidents with high‐risk human exposure.



Results reporting

Upon completion of testing, all results are faxed or mailed to the submitter using the information provided on the requisition form.

  • Negative

  • Positive

  • Specimen insufficient for testing

Additional information

  • For testing questions contact the Serology supervisor at 303‐692‐3489.

  • For additional information on courier service and to order test requisition forms and supplies see the general tab in the left navigation menu.