Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratories

Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratories

The Reference Guide and Fee Schedule for the services of the MDA Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratories are found below. Please click on the items in the table of contents below to be directed to that item.​


General Policies

  1. Charges for each necropsy examination are based upon the species and size of animal submitted, and include all other laboratory tests conducted in the MDA-AHDL laboratories as well as histopathology. Additional charges will be made for spinal cord removal, insurance claims and specimens referred to outside laboratories, e.g. toxicology. Disposal charges are separate from necropsy charges.
  2. Shipping fees will be charged for specimens that are packaged and shipped for testing at other laboratories.
  3. The Diagnostic Laboratories are open Monday through Friday. There are no weekend hours. If mailing samples, please ensure delivery by Friday. Samples delivered on Saturday may be degraded by the delay and will become unsuitable for testing.
  4. Out-of-state fees are assessed at a higher rate, and are noted throughout the document.
  5. Volume discounts are available where noted.
  6. Unless otherwise specified, fees apply equally to both farm and non-farm species.
  7. Animal carcasses cannot be returned; however, ashes or cremains can be returned for an additional charge. Please see Animal Disposal and Cremation Section.
  8. For Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) and Bioterrism Suspects DO NOT TRANSPORT. Call: 410-841-5810; after hours MDA emergency for veterinarians only: 410-841-5971; USDA: 410-349-9708

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Sample Submission

Laboratory Submission Forms for non-regulatory testing:

Contact the laboratory directly for special or regulatory test forms.

General Information: Submit complete information with all samples. Include:

  • Owner's name, complete address and phone number and premise ID.
  • Veterinarian's name, address and phone number.
  • Animal ID No./Name (regulatory tests require permanent ID)
  • Species, breed, age & sex of animal.
  • Tests requested.
  • Identify sample: tissue or fluid. Infection site. Date and time of collection. Note history and medication given.
  • Notify laboratory in advance of more than a dozen samples.
  • Collect specimens before antimicrobial treatment.
  • Transport under proper conditions. Refer to instructions in this guide for container, time limit and temperature considered best for your specimens.
  • Environmental samples must be collected by authorized MDA personnel, in accordance with established programs.
  • Guidelines are designed to allow the best specimen to be submitted. Failure to follow guidelines may result in unacceptable specimens.

Tissue & Body Fluid: Tissues should be collected with the least possible contamination. Select samples of organ tissues before incising the gastrointestinal tract. Tie off 3" intestine sections for submission. Individual organs should be placed in separate containers i.e. whirlpak bags or wide-mouth, screw cap specimen containers. Tissues for bacteriology should be chilled in transit by icepacks. Formalized tissues are not acceptable for microbiological culture. For viral isolation, freeze tissue, pack in airtight container (CO2 is VIRICIDAL) and transport on dry ice.

Serum: Bring samples to the lab no later than 4 PM on the day blood is collected, unless you have separated the serum and refrigerated it. If more than one test is requested, please submit 1 ml of serum for each additional test. Blood samples held too long prior to submission may be unsuitable for testing.

Brucellosis Tests: Bangs tubes may be picked up at any of the Animal Health Laboratories. It is best to submit samples early in the week. Try to get at least 5 ml of blood from each animal; obtaining 10 ml is preferable. Keep samples cool; do not freeze unless you have separated the serum from the clot. Usually this is done by personnel at the laboratory. Brucellosis must be submitted with the appropriate form.

Pseudorabies and Other Tests Done in Tissue Culture: Samples should be submitted in sterile vacuum tubes or clear plastic screw cap tubes with no additives. Bring blood to the laboratory immediately. Swine blood in particular hemolyzes rapidly and hemolyzed serum is unsuitable for testing. Submit samples early in the day as we must transfer the serum to other tubes before the red cells hemolyze. Keep samples cool. Use ice packs if needed.

AGID Test for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) & Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV): Silicone coated vacuum tubes are preferred. EIA tests must be submitted with the appropriate state or federal form.

Anaerobic culture: Material from the site of the infection may be aspirated by syringe, capped, refrigerated, and transported as soon as possible. Tissue should be 2" cubes refrigerated and transported within 4 hours to the laboratory.

Blood Culture: Blood samples must be collected without introducing contaminants from the skin. The blood must be inoculated immediately into a sterile blood culture bottle. Blood culture bottles which require collection by syringe and then inoculation into the bottle may be used.
Please Note: Vacuum tubes designed for hematology or serology are usually not sterile and are not suitable when collecting blood for microbiological examination (Blood culture bottles are designed to neutralize the inhibitory effects of serum immediately and allow the microbes to grow).

Fungal Culture: Hair/skin scrapings are collected by sterile forceps or scalpel and submitted in clean paper packets or envelopes. (Specimens in closed tubes retain moisture and contaminants overgrow the material.) Skin should be cleansed with alcohol before scraping. Do not refrigerate while transporting. Do not use transport swabs and media designed for bacterial isolation.

Hematology: EDTA blood tubes for blood counts. Samples should be submitted to the lab as soon as possible. Blood samples held too long may not be suitable for testing.

Two thin blood smears on frosted slides for differential counts should be made prior to adding blood to anticoagulant or no later than 15 minutes after adding blood to EDTA tube and submitted with sample. Slides should have frosted end and be labeled in pencil.

CEM Culture: Performed at the Frederick Animal Health Laboratory only. For CEM cultures, please make prior arrangements with the laboratory (301) 600-1548. Strict adherence to federal regulations is required.

Feces: Submit from 1/2 to 2 oz. of feces in a sterile, 4 oz. screw-cap container. For bacterial and viral examination, use no preservatives. Cryptosporidium requires 3-5 grams of feces in 15 ml of 10% formalin.
Transport specimen under the following conditions:

 

Type of Exam Conditions
Bacterial Isolation Refrigeration
Viral Isolation Frozen
Parasitological Refrigeration

 

(Note: For Campylobacter isolation, specimen must be transported to the lab within 2 - 4 hours max, even when refrigerated).

Milk: Collect milk aseptically as soon as possible after mastitis is noticed and before antibiotic treatment begins. Teats must be clean and thoroughly dried.

Points to Remember:

  • Collect samples as aseptically and as quickly as possible.
  • Hold the tube cap while collecting sample. Placing the cap down may increase the risk of contamination.
  • Immediately after samples are taken, they should be cooled at refrigerator temperature (5 C; 39-41 F) and cultured within 24 hours. After this time, and/or if samples are kept at ambient temperatures, the samples are useless for diagnostic purposes.
  • If it is not possible to deliver samples within 24 hours, the samples can be frozen and kept frozen until delivery to the lab. DMSCC and WMT can not be performed on frozen milk.

Routine aerobic culture (up to 3 isolates) per tissue or swab; antibiotic sensitivity will be run at no extra cost if indicated.

Special Cultures (Listeria, anaerobic, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Candida, etc.) charges per bacterial species requested, per tissue or swab.

Bacterial culture identification (bacteriologic plates submitted with growth, for identification). Fee is per plate (up to 3 isolates). Animal species of origin must be indicated at the time of submission.

Antibiotic sensitivity if submitted separately as a bacterial plate fee is assessed per isolate.

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Shipping/Packaging Guidelines

Federal regulations govern the packaging and labeling of diagnostic specimens. If spillage occurs during transit that damages other mail, equipment or causes harm to personnel, the shipper may face prosecution even if the material involved was not infectious or hazardous.

The box containing samples should be labeled on the outside as "Animal Clinical (Diagnostic) Specimen". Specimens should be "triple bagged". The primary container should be a watertight primary receptacle (Whirl Pak and Zip Locks frequently leak if not closed properly) followed by a watertight secondary packaging. An absorbent packing material must be placed between the primary receptacle and secondary packaging. Screw-cap closures must be reinforced with tape. The final packaging should consist of sturdy construction (corrugated fiberboard, wood, metal or plastic).

Packaging Instructions- The following is provided to prevent problems associated with improper packing.

  • Samples in cardboard boxes should be placed in a waterproof liner and sealed tightly.
  • Do not use frozen water-filled plastic bags as ice packs; use gel packs.
  • Protect the submission form from moisture by enclosing it in a waterproof bag.
  • Each specimen should be placed in a separate, clearly labeled container.
  • Label tubes numerically and reference the numbers to animals’ IDs on submittal form)
  • Slides for cytological evaluation should be protected from formalin fumes.
  • Cardboard slide mailers should not be used in an envelope. They may be used within a box; however, plastic slide holders are preferred. Blood, fluids feces and fresh tissues should be shipped on ice to arrive the day after collection.

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State Holidays

Laboratories may not be open on these Holidays. Please call ahead to confirm hours. 
  • New Year’s Day
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Election Day
  • Veterans’ Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Day after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

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Billing and Test Result Confidentiality

Fees for services on specimens submitted by individuals without an established account must be paid at the time of submission. Presently we only accept cash and checks made payable to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (we cannot accept credit card payments). Accounts 75 days past due will be assessed a collection fee.

Test results and reports are confidential and are available only to the veterinarian, clinic or other authorized submitter of the samples. Owner identity may be difficult to establish unless clearly listed on admission form.

Referrals: The Animal Health laboratories will automatically refer any sample for tests requested but not performed by our laboratories to another laboratories for testing. The destination will vary according to factors such as availability, reliability, cost and turn-around time for results. There will be a packaging and shipping fee. See Fee Schedule. 

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Avian Diagnostics

Avian Serum: For avian serum to separate well, the tubes should be filled about 1/4 full of blood and immediately placed in a slanted position until the clot is set. Lay the tube on its side with the top edge propped up just enough to keep the blood from running out. Get as much surface area as possible. Leave undisturbed for about 30 minutes. The tube may then be placed in an upright position and serum will continue to separate. Avian serum separates best when kept relatively warm. Wait a few hours before refrigerating unless the day is extremely hot. Never freeze any serum which is to be tested for mycoplasma antibodies.

We can test for Pullorum-typhoid, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, Mycoplasma synoviae, and Avian Influenza on serum.

Avian Tissues/Swabs: Samples from tissues and culturette swabs can be tested for common poultry viruses and bacteria at the Salisbury Laboratory . They should be transported overnight in properly chilled conditions. Call the Salisbury lab for sampling and shipping guidelines. Phone: (410) 543-6610.

Training of NPIP Testing Agents: The Animal Health Program offers training of testing agents to perform blood testing of poultry to qualify flocks as National Poultry Improvement Plan participants or for exhibition. For information call NPIP Coordinator at the MDA Animal Health Program Headquarters, (410) 841-5810. 

Testing of Poultry for Pullorum/Fowl Typhoid, and certain other diseases is offered for a fee (see fee schedule) in areas or situations when private testing agents are unavailable. Avian Influenza testing for shows, interstate movement, is offered for free. Call the Duty Veterinarian at the MDA Animal Health Program Headquarters, (410) 841-5810. 

Owners may submit birds for necropsy to the nearest MDA lab. It is recommended that owners call the lab first prior to submitting samples. Salisbury Laboratory, (410) 543-6610 or Frederick Laboratory, (301) 600-1548.

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Clinical Pathology and Hematology

Clinical Pathology/Hematology
We offer complete Clinical Chemistry and Hematology analysis through the MDA Laboratories in partnership with referral labs. Some tests are performed at the Animal Health Laboratories; some are referred to other laboratories. Samples shipped to referral labs will be assessed a packaging and shipping fee. Most routine test results are faxed to MDA Laboratory the next day. 

Chemistry Profiles available:
Superchem: Albumin, Alk Phos, ALT, Amylase, AST, BUN, Calcium, Chloride, Cholesterol, CPK, Creatinine, GGT, Globulin, Glucose, Lipase, Magnesium, Osmolality, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Total Bilirubin, Total Protein, Triglyceride.
Vet Screen: Albumin, Alk Phos, ALT, BUN, Calcium, Chloride, Cholesterol, CPK, Creatinine, Globulin, Glucose, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Total Bilirubin, Total Protein.
Pre Op Screen: albumin, Alk Phos, ALT, BUN, Creatinine, Globulin Glucose, Total Protein
Mini Screen: ALT, BUN, Glucose, Total Protein.
Total Body Function: Superchem CBC, T4
Canine Autoimmune Profile: CBC, Coombs, RA, ANA, Platelet Count
Coagulation Profile 1: CBC, Platelet Count, PT, PTT, Fibrinogen, D-Dimer, Plasma Protein
Renal Profile: Albumin, BUN, Calcium, Creatinine, Globulin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium Total Protein, CBC, Urinalysis
Liver Profile: Alk Phos. ALT, AST, BUN, GGT, Globulin, Glucose, Total Bilirubin, Total Protein, CBC, Pr and Post Bile Acids..
Electrolyte Profile: Sodium, Potassium, Chloride
Equine Training Profile: SGOT, CPK, CBC
Molecular Genetics: PCR samples should be submitted well refrigerated, but not frozen.

Equine Neurologic Syndrome: We offer testing for horses exhibiting central neurologic signs in the absence of noninfection cause, or where infectious cause is suspected and cannot be ruled out. Differentals include: Rabies, EHV, WNV, EPM, and EEE. Test kits for for collection and submission of samples of Equine Neurologic Syndrome are available to Veterinarians at the MDA Laboratories and MDA Headquarters at no cost. Call the Frederick Lab (301) 600-1548 prior to collecting samples form a neurologic equine case. Collect nasal swap, red top and purple top blood tubes.

Urinalysis: Specimens should be submitted in sterile, leak proof containers. Example: screw-cap cup or tube. Catherization is the preferred method of collection, 10-20 ml per sample. If free catch void urine is submitted, discard initial 15-30 ml to reduce contamination.

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Parasitology

For analysis of fecal samples, please submit fresh, chilled feces (unless otherwise noted) to decrease deterioration and bacterial overgrowth. Samples held for more than 2 day between collection and submission to the lab may be unsuitable for testing.

  • Fecal floatation/Ova & Parasite (Quantitative and Qualitative) 
  • F.A. exam/Cryptosporidium/Giardia
  • Skin Scrapings
  • Parasite ID

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Toxicology

All toxicological tests are sent to reference laboratories, which involves additional charges. Please check with the laboratory regarding changes for testing and packaging/shipping fee. Purity of sample is of extreme importance in toxicology.

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Certification Programs

Certification programs are administered by MDA's Animal Health Program in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture but rely on testing and inspection of animals by private veterinary practitioners who are accredited by USDA/MDA to perform official duties. Owners should contact their veterinarian for details.

Cattle and Goat Herds can be officially accredited tuberculosis free and/or certified Brucellosis free
Swine Breeding Herds can become validated Brucellosis free and/or pseudorabies qualified negative;
Feeder pig Herds can become pseudorabies monitored.
Sheep Flocks must participate in the scrapie flock certification program.

Poultry Flocks and Hatcheries can qualify for a certification in several programs of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). For information, contact the NPIP Coordinator at the MDA Animal Health Headquarters, (410)-841-5810.

Livestock to be shown in Maryland or Moved Interstate from Maryland for showing or other purposes must be accompanied by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) issued by an accredited veterinarian. For questions regarding Certificates of Veterinary Inspections, call MDA Animal Haetlh Program Headquarters ​

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Import/Export Information

Import-Export Information (international) is not available from MDA but rather from USDA/APHIS/Veterinary Services in Richmond, VA (804) 343-2567. For information on quarantine in Maryland for equine breeding stock imported from certain countries, call MDA's Animal Health Office in Annapolis, (410) 841-5810.

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Certification of Veterinary Inspection

For animals originating in Maryland, a valid intrastate Maryland CVI must be filled out and completed by an accredited veterinarian. This CVI is valid to move interstate or for sale purposes for 30 days. This CVI is valid for entry into exhibitions for 120 days.  Each animal must be individually and postively identified on the health chart. A poultry premises registration number will be required for Maryland poultry producers to exhibit at Maryland exhibitions. 

All animals entering Maryland must satisfy import health and test requirements for that species and be listed on an interstate CVI with each animal individually and positively identified on the health chart. The interstate CVI is valid for 30 days from the date of issuance with regard to entrance into Maryland. The interstate CVI must include the names and location of the MD exhibitions you are excepting to attend. 

In consideration of public health concerns, it is strongly recommended that all mammals to be exhibited at any fair or show in Maryland be vaccinated against rabies if there is an approved vaccine for that species. All animals that will be in petting zoos must be vaccinated against rabies if there is an approved vaccine.  

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Johne's Program

Johne's Disease is a chronic (years) mycobacterial infection that affects principally the lower small intestine of many ruminants. Cattle, sheep, goat and less frequently deer, llamas, bison and other ruminants are all susceptible to the disease. The clinical condition is caused by Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis infection.

The economic impact of Johne's Disease in a herd may include some or all of the following effects: premature culling of exposed, infected or clinical animals which may lead to loss of valuable animals and genetic potential; decreased milk production in infected animals (losses of 5-20%); loss of marketing and show opportunities; possible breeding problems in infected animals; veterinary costs.

In the living animal, fecal culture is the most accurate diagnostic test, but requires 12 to 16 weeks culture time and is expensive. Fecal culture sensitivity is considered to be about 40% +/-10% and its specificity is 99% if done correctly. Fecal culture tests cannot detect Stage I or some Stage II animals. Various serologic tests including ELISA and AGID tests detect antibody in the serum and can be used on a herd basis or to confirm clinical cases. The serology tests are less accurate than culture, but are relatively rapid and less expensive. Only in advanced clinical cases are the predictive values of AGID tests similar to culture and ELISA values. ELISA has been most widely used for screening herds. ELISA sensitivity for clinical cases has been reported to be 85%, while the sensitivity is about 15% in non-clinical cases. In the dead animal, Johne's disease is accurately diagnosed by histopathology of the lower small intestine (distal ileum) and associated lymph nodes.

In herds with low to moderate infection (one percent or fewer clinical cases per year), wise use of a combination of testing, culling and management can be expected to reduce the number of clinical cases to zero within one to three years and to eliminate most infection in five to seven years. As the herd turns over, each succeeding generation will have fewer infected animals, all of which will eventually be non-shedders. Complete elimination of infected cattle is likely to take many years after Johne's disease becomes invisible in the herd. Biosecurity practices should remain in place, otherwise Johne's disease is likely to recur.

With a negative herd test, Maryland cattle herds can qualify for the U.S. Johne's Disease Herd Status Program for Cattle. This program was adopted by the United States Animal Health Association in 1998. For more information on control programs, contact:

Maryland Johne's Disease Coordinator
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Frederick Animal Health Laboratory
1840 Rosemont Avenue
Frederick, MD 21702
301-600-1548

More information can be found on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website: www.aphis.usda.gov/vs

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Fish Health Services

To report a fish kill, please call the Maryland Emergency Management Agency at: Phone: 1-877-224-7229

For Fish Health Investigation information, please call the Maryland Department of Natural Resources at: Phone: 1-800-628-9944

For Aquatic Animal Permitting Issues, including movement in or out of state, please contact Rich Bohn, MD DNR Fisheries Service at: 410-260-8317 or email Rich.Bohn@maryland.gov. 

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Necropsy Disposal Services and Fees

Full necropsy service, including gross examination of animal carcasses, is available in our lab system. Veterinary diagnosticians and pathologists will perform the gross examination, and collect specimens for additional laboratory tests. The necropsy and disposal fee includes gross and histopathologic examination, most bacterial and viral identification procedures, parasite identification and cremation. Toxicology tests are not included in the necropsy and disposal fee; samples for toxicology are sent to reference labs. Additional fees will be incurred for toxicology tests.

Carcasses intended for necropsy should be kept refrigerated, but not frozen, as freeze/thaw artifacts obscure gross and microscopic lesions. Because of public health concerns, we are not able to return carcasses or parts. We do not perform cosmetic necropsies. Please contact our labs for alternate sites that provide disposal only services.

Necropsies of food animals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs), horses, llamas, and backyard poultry are done at the Frederick laboratory. Commercial and backyard poultry necropsies are done at Salisbury laboratory; necropsy for other species is limited to specific cases as determined by the laboratory director or State veterinarian.

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Histopathology

Biopsy service: Tissue should be placed in 10% neutral buffered formalin. Ten volumes of formalin are required to adequately fix one volume of tissue. Specimen should consist of the lesion site and surrounding tissue. Do not allow fresh or fixed tissue to freeze.

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Rabies

No charge if only head is submitted for domestic/farm animals. (DO NOT REMOVE HEAD FROM WILD ANIMALS – submit entire carcass). If entire animal is submitted, the disposal fee is based on weight, except for wild animals. If rabies exam is performed as part of a necropsy, the necropsy fee will apply, with no extra charge for rabies testing.

Every rabies sample must be identified with the following information:

  • Human exposure: yes or no.
  • Name, address and phone number of any person(s) exposed.
  • Name, address and phone number of submitter/owner of animal.
  • Name, address and phone number of any veterinarian or physician involved, if different from submitter.
  • History, vaccination status and clinical signs noted.

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Alphabetical Test Index and Fee Listing

The fees listed in this schedule are effective January 1, 2017 and were set by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. They are subject to change without notice. 

The Animal Health laboratories will automatically refer any sample for tests requested but not performed by our laboratories to other laboratories for testing. The destination will vary according to factors such as availability, reliability, cost, and turn-around time for results. There will be a packaging and shipping fee. See Fee Schedule.

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Group photo of Frederick Animal Health staff

Above: Photo of the Frederick Animal Health Lab Staff

Frederick Animal Health Lab

1840 Rosemont Ave
Frederick, MD 21702
Phone: 301-600-1548
Fax: 301-600-6111
AHFrederick.mda@maryland.gov

SAHL Staff 9.3.15.jpg

​Above: Photo of the Salisbury Animal Health Lab Staff

Salisbury Animal Health Lab

27722 Nanticoke Rd.
 Salisbury, MD 21801
Phone: 410-543-6610
Fax: 410-543-6676
AHSalisbury.mda@maryland.gov