Sample Handling

Successful laboratory confirmation requires collection of appropriate and adequate specimens, proper packaging, and rapid transport to the appropriate laboratory, while ensuring the chain of custody of the specimens and following appropriate biological safety procedures. It is advisable to consult with the receiving laboratories about all aspects of sample collection prior to collection of the samples if possible.

Biological safety precautions need to be observed while conducting the investigation, both to protect the investigator and to prevent unintentional spread of disease. In suspicious outbreaks, appropriate triage of samples may have to be performed to exclude radiological and toxic chemical exposure of the investigator.

Each sample collected should be assigned a unique identification number that is linked with a laboratory request form. If the sample is a clinical sample, the patient's name should be present on all specimens, epidemiological data forms, and the laboratory request form. Appropriate sealing of laboratory samples and/or transport media can maintain the security and integrity of samples during shipment, identify samples whose identity or integrity may have been compromised, and identify and link samples with the information required for accurate analysis and reporting of test results.

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