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WEBSITE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health
South Dakota Department of Health

Rabies

Rabies testing for any human exposure case is performed by direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) detection. The protocol for testing is based on the requirements provided by the CDC and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL). To maintain competency in rabies testing, the South Dakota Public Health Lab participates in proficiency testing provided by the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene.

For large animals to be tested, please submit the brain only. A head only submission is acceptable for smaller animals.

HOW TO SUBMIT ANIMAL SPECIMENS FOR RABIES TESTING:

  1. Call the South Dakota Department of Health to report the possible exposure and to seek guidance in how to submit the animal for testing. If at all possible, please call before destroying the animal. Call 1-800-592-1861 or 605-773-3737 during regular business hours. For emergencies or after hours, call 1-800-592-1861.

  2. Notify the South Dakota Public Health Laboratory (SDPHL) of ALL impending shipments before actual transport. Call the lab at 1-800-592-1861 or 605-773-3368 during regular business hours. After hours call 1-800-592-1861.

  3. Use care as to not destroy the head of the animal by gunshot or bludgeoning. Take the animal to a veterinarian for removal of the head or brain in order to preserve the brain tissue and prevent unnecessary exposure to a potentially diseased animal.

  4. Include with the specimen, a SD PHL Rabies Submission Form with the following information:
    • Name and birth date of the person exposed
    • Type of animal
    • Exposure date and animal death date
    • Symptoms and/or unusual behavior of the suspect animal
    • Name, address and phone number of submitting facility

      Request submission form from veterinarian or physician, or download the form here.

  5. Pack animal head or brain carefully in an insulated container with ice or ice packs. Specimen must not be frozen. Transport package by shipping or overnight mail. To ensure integrity of the brain, avoid sending on weekends.
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