Importance of Routine Rabies Testing
Rapid and accurate laboratory diagnosis of rabies in animals to which humans have been exposed (through bite, contact with saliva or brain/nervous tissues) are essential for timely administration of post-exposure prophylaxis. Within a few hours of receipt of an animal specimen for testing, a diagnostic laboratory can determine whether or not the animal is infected with rabies and inform the responsible medical personnel. Laboratory results can prevent unnecessary procedures, psychological trauma, and financial burdens, if the animal is determined to be not infected.
In addition, laboratory identification of positive rabies cases may aid in defining current epidemiological patterns of disease and provide appropriate information for the development of rabies control programs.
Rabies Diagnosis in Animals
A direct fluorescent antibody test (dFA) is most frequently used in the laboratory diagnosis of rabies. This test requires brain tissue from animals suspected of being rabid. The test can only be performed post-mortem of the animal (i.e., after the animal has been euthanized). Testing is not performed on humans.
See the link in the left side-bar to access the Submission Form and Packaging Instructions for submitting rabies specimens. To order a rabies specimen shipping container, or inquire about rabies testing, please call the OSDH PHL Client Services at (405) 271-5070 during regular business hours.
For consultation on animal bites and rabies risk, please contact the Acute Disease Service Epidemiologist-On-Call at (405) 271-4060. If you suspect a case of human rabies immediately, contact the Oklahoma State Health Department’s Disease and Prevention Services at 405-271-4060.