Submitting specimens to the laboratory

Laboratory submissions

Specimens for laboratory testing must be submitted to:

AgriBio - Veterinary Diagnostic Services Sample Reception - Main Loading Dock 5 Ring Road,
La Trobe University Campus Bundoora VIC 3083
Phone: 03 9032 7515

Couriers: Contact specimen reception at Agribio; they have a list of the contracted couriers AND the contract number which needs to be written on the consignment note.

Consignment notes: Consignment notes can be sourced from AgriBio specimen reception, or from Toll at the time of collection (please indicate you require one when booking in the collection).

All laboratory submissions must be accompanied by:

  • A carefully completed Laboratory Examination Sample Submission Form  (WORD - 138.5 KB)
  • A combined Laboratory Submission and RODE form (PDF - 178.0 KB) – If submitting samples for a Significant Disease Investigation (SDI), please ensure that the combined lab submission and record of disease event (RODE) form is also provided AND clearly shows who approved the investigation.
    • Without this, the submitting veterinary practice may be responsible for the cost of diagnostic testing.
    • A final digital Lab Submission-RODE must be provided to the approving Veterinary Officer following the completion of the investigation.
    • For follow-up investigations, authorisation must be provided by the department and a separate Lab Submission-RODE is to be provided.
  • Other paperwork - If submitting samples as part of any other subsidised investigation or special program, the relevant forms for this project can be found in Forms and Templates for Veterinarians.
  • Any other relevant clinical history or photographs.

The Duty Pathologist will determine the type and sequence of testing based on the samples and history provided. Any additional testing not indicated for the investigation, but requested by the submitter, will be completed on a fee-for-service basis by prior agreement with the submitter.

Packing samples

  1. Labelled blood tubes with paper towel in initial ziplock bag. Secondary ziplock bag labelled with owners surname, animal ID and sample date. Secondary ziplock bag in styrofoam esky with bubble wrap and ice brick.Ensure all specimen containers are sealed
    • For fresh tissue samples, tape the lid of any jars to prevent loosening or place each sample in a sealed zip-lock bag with the air squeezed out of it
    • For glass slide smears, place in slide containers
    • Prevent glass slides, swabs and other fresh samples being exposed to formalin vapours or liquids by packaging in separate sealed zip-lock bags. Formalin fumes can discolour blood smears and disinfect tissue samples rendering culture techniques useless.
    • For blood tubes, place in zip-lock bag with a wad of paper towel / tissue
    • When submitting brain - It is safest to fix the brain in formalin for 3 days, decant off the formalin, and then send the brain separately in a sealed bag with formalin-soaked paper to keep it moist. (Formalin can be decanted into a container and be later collected by commercial disposal companies. Another disposal option is deactivating with Formalex® at a rate of 1 part Formalex: 4 parts aldehyde waste (e.g. 250ml of Formalex to 1000ml of 10% buffered Formalin) to be disposed of down the drain.)
  2. Paperwork placed in ziplock bag and taped onto top of the styrofoam cooler.Label all specimens clearly with animal identification, name of owner, Property Identification Code (PIC) and date.
  3. Seal specimens into a secondary container with sufficient absorbent material to absorb all of the liquid in and around the specimen.
    • This secondary container could be a large zip-lock bag with the air squeezed out of it sufficiently to allow it and the specimens to fit in the next container.
    • Label secondary container with owner’s name, sampling date and animal ID.
  4. Place sealed specimens into Styrofoam cooler with sufficient packing material (newspaper, cotton wool or bubble wrap) to hold all samples firmly. Add cooler bricks to maintain samples at 4°C and tape lid closed. Unless advised otherwise, do not freeze blood samples or tissues prior to transport. See Figure 1
  5. Place all paperwork into a separate zip-lock bag. Tape zip-lock bag onto the top of the Styrofoam cooler. Refer to Figure 2.
  6. Place styrofoam container into a cardboard box, seal and stick the consignment note on the top. See Figure 3.
    • Consignment notes can be sourced from AgriBio specimen reception, or from Toll at the time of collection (please indicate you require one when booking in the collection).
    • Sealed styrofoam cooler in cardboard shipping box displaying orientation labels and UN3373 Category B, Biological Substance label and consignment note.All samples must be submitted in compliance with hazardous substances legislation and transportation of dangerous goods legislation, so that all people who handle the samples are protected from injury or discomfort.
    • Outer packaging must be marked and labelled with
    • name address of sender
    • name and address of receiver
    • emergency contact details (name and 24-hour phone number) on outer packaging OR on consignment note
    • proper shipping name (Biological Substances, Category B)
    • UN 3373 mark (see Figure 4)
    • orientation labels if package contains 50 mL or more of liquid.

Submission of samples

Cardboard box with consignment note on the top, orientation label facing up and UN3373 label stuck to the front of the box.Ideally, submit multiple samples for analysis. You will not be charged for processing of the samples unless they are needed to arrive at the diagnosis.

Discuss with the lab the option of splitting submission of the samples into two (2) lots; fresh samples immediately followed by fixed samples one or two days later.

Submitting fresh tissues

Fresh samples such as blood, blood smears, liver for toxicology and samples for culture, need to be received by AgriBio in good condition, preferably within 24 hours of collection. If this is impacted by a weekend, refrigerate and send on the Monday / next suitable day.

Submitting fixed tissues

Fixed samples (excluding brain) must be fixed in a 1:10 volume of tissue to10% buffered formalin for 48 hours. For formalin fixed samples, ensure the specimen is either;

  1. transported in the minimum amount of formalin possible (i.e., a ratio of tissue to formalin of 2:1), and not exceeding 1L per package.
    1. Following initial fixation, excess formalin should be decanted.


    2. Jars containing formalin submitted to the laboratory should be no more than 2/3 filled and have enough absorptive material within secondary packaging to capture any leaks or spills (nappies are great for this purpose).
    3. placed in a container with the formalin decanted, then covered with a formalin-soaked piece of paper to keep the sample damp. Then follow steps above for packaging samples.

Submitting brains

The whole brain must be fixed in a minimum 1:5 volume of brain to 10% buffered formalin for at least 72 hours prior to submission. The brain should be submitted in a separate container from other fixed samples.

Frozen spinal cord should be submitted in a yellow 70ml sterile container with the brain.

Other resources

Page last updated: 13 Jun 2024