Veterinary sample packaging guide

Page last updated: Thursday, 25 June 2020 - 1:00pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

The Veterinary sample packaging guide was developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Western Australia, to assist veterinarians to package biological samples appropriately for laboratory submission.

Always use personal protective equipment including gloves when handling biological samples and practice good hygeine. 

If you suspect an exotic, reportable or zoonotic disease, contact DPIRD Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DDLS) sample receival or the duty pathologist on +61 (0)8 9368 3351 or before submission.

Download a printable PDF version of the veterinary sample packaging guide here

Laminated copies of the guides are available to WA private vets on request from your local DPIRD Field Veterinary Officer.

Download a copy of the DDLS laboratory submission form here. 

Veterinary sample packaging guide

1. Ensure labelling is readable and indelible 

labelled sampling pots and swabs ready for sample collection
Clean jars of any external contamination

2. Check lids are tightly sealed 

Tape around sampling pots to secure the seal
Tape around the lids of jars to reduce leaks. Electrical tape or paraffin tape give a better seal than sticky tape.

3. Remove all needles, scalpels and gloves 

scalpel blade syringe and glove
Submit all fluid samples in sterile jars or in plain (clotted) blood tubes, not in syringes or gloves. 

4. Secure blood tubes 

Blood tubes labelled one to five in foam rack
Submit blood tubes in foam racks wrapped in plastic film or held together by elastic bands to reduce the chance of breakage in transit. Wrap single blood tubes in absorbent padding. 

three blood tubes labelled and secured together with elastic band

5. Protect blood films

Blood smears on glass slides inside plastic slide protector
Place slides of blood films and smears in a slide transport box and seal these in a ziplock bag to prevent formalin fume contamination during transport (formalin induces artefacts in smears). 

6. Use absorbent material

esky with cotton wool inside it
Use absorbent material (paper, cotton wool) to line the esky in case of leaks. Consider sealing samples in large ziplock bags to reduce the risk of leaks. Note: rigid containers such as eskies (not postbags) are required to prevent breakage of postage tubes. 

sampling pots sealed with red electrical tape inside ziplock bags

7. Place all samples in the esky

Esky packed with sampling pots in ziplock bags and ice bricks
Place cold bricks around the blood, swabs and fresh samples. Fixed samples do not need chilling (but are not harmed by it).

8. Seal the esky with tape

esky sealed with electrical tape, laboratory submission sheet in ziplock bag attached to the outside of the esky
Place laboratory submission forms in an envelope or ziplock bag and tape to the side of the esky. 

9. Attach courier label

Sealed esky with courier label on top
Place a courier label on the top of the esky and call courier.  

For more information or advice on conducting livestock post-mortems or sampling required for disease exclusions, contact DPIRD Diagnostic Laboratory Services - animal pathology unit.