Specimen Source

  • Specimen source
  • Vesicular fluid from lesions
  • Scrapings
  • Scabs
  • Biopsies

Note: These specimens present an exposure risk to the laboratorian.

Young boy with smallpox:

Child With Smallpox

Collect Specimens and Transport

Suspected Case

What do you do if you suspect smallpox?

Healthcare providers who suspect they have a patient with smallpox should notify public health authorities immediately!


South Dakota State Department of Health

Office of Disease Prevention

605-773-3737 or 1-800-592-1861

The South Dakota State Health Laboratory will make arrangements with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the provider to ship specimens directly to CDC. Epidemiology will advise you about the appropriate specimens to collect and the proper method and arrangements for shipping specimens to CDC.

Smallpox Plan Guide D


Lab Work

Biosafety Level 4 criteria are used when working with smallpox.

Smallpox is very contagious and easily spread from person to person.

Always use appropriate personal protective equipment including masks, laboratory coats, gloves, and eye or face shields when collecting and handling specimens.

Important safety note: Smallpox virus may grow in Herpes cultures. Use caution!