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Bacteriology Submission Guidelines

General guidelines for submission are found in the Pathology section. If you are requesting bacteriology tests, remember to keep samples moist, cool, and send by overnight transport. The following are important points to keep in mind:

  • Tissues should be VERY fresh and collected aseptically.
  • Collect samples prior to antibiotic treatment.
  • Submit generous portions of tissue or several milliliters of pus, exudate, or feces.
  • Avoid swab submissions whenever possible.
  • Submit samples individually in separate bags or jars with correct and clear identification.
  • Maintain samples at refrigeration temperature (40ºF/4ºC) and send with ice packs. Freezing is generally not recommended.

Anaerobic Cultures

  • Care in collection is essential. Do not contaminate the samples with surfaces which have resident anaerobic bacteria. Exposure to air for more than 20 minutes can be detrimental.
  • Samples from animals that have been dead longer than 4 hours are usually unsuitable.
  • Tissues and liquid exudates are recommended (ship in anaerobic pouches or tubes).
  • Swabs are not acceptable unless shipped in proper containers. Special collection devices and transport tubes with reduced oxygen environment are available.


  • Collect milk in sterile snap cap or screw cap tubes. Do not ask owner to collect milk samples without first providing training in proper sampling technique.
  • Cool samples before submitting to the laboratory, and mail with ice packs. Samples may also be frozen without altering recoverability of pathogens.


  • Not normally used for recovery of animal pathogens because bacteremia is intermittent. Call the laboratory for recommendations.


  • Collect by cystocentesis (best), catheter, or mid-stream catch. Submit a 3 ml sample.

Skin Lesions

  • To collect from pustules or vesicles, disinfect surface with alcohol, allow to dry, and aspirate material with syringe and needle.
  • Pluck hair from lesion and scrape edge of lesion when ringworm in suspected. Submit hair, skin scrapings, scab material, and toe nails.

Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing

Antimicrobial susceptibility testing is provided for bacterial pathogens recovered in the VDL or submitted by veterinarians. The system utilized at this time is a semi-automated broth dilution technique known as a modified MIC (minimum inhibitory concentration). The panels contain different antimicrobials, depending upon the animal from which the organism was recovered. Panels are as follows: food animal (porcine, bovine, ovine), companion animal/equine, poultry, and mastitis. Antibiograms for organisms requiring special techniques are also available. The antimicrobials selected for all panels are consistent with CVM regulatory policies. Additional antimicrobial disks are available upon request for Kirby-Bauer (disk diffusion) tests.

The disclaimer on food animal/equine susceptibility reports states: "This report contains only in vitro antimicrobial susceptibility results and does not represent a therapeutic recommendation. Some antimicrobial use is limited or prohibited in food animals by FDA-CVM regulations. Inappropriate extra-label drug use in food producing animals may lead to violative residues and/or enforcement actions."

Table of Bacteriology Tests

Abortion, bacterial Brucella species, Campylobacter species, Leptospira species, Listeria monocytogenes Fresh whole fetus. Placenta with cotyledons, lung and liver. Fetal stomach contents for darkfield examination.Uterine discharge.
Abortion, mycotic Aspergillus species, etc. Placenta with cotyledons. Fetal stomach contents.
Actinomycosis, bovine Actinomyces bovis Material from abscess on swab (kept moist) or in syringe.
Anaerobic infections Bacteroides species, Fusobacterium species, Eubacterium species Large piece of tissue or exudate collected in sterile syringe with plugged needle. Anaerobic transport system helps maintain viability.
Anthrax Bacillus anthracis Blood sample taken from superficial vein, such as jugular. Spleen, if necropsy has been performed. Swine - lymph nodes, spleen, kidney, and peritoneal fluid. State on submission form that case involves an anthrax suspect. Take care in sampling!
Atrophic rhinitis of swine Bordetella bronchiseptica, Pasteurella multocida Clean external nares with alcohol, then swab deep into nasal cavity. Swabs should be kept moist during transport to lab. Use mini swabs on small pigs. Send entire snout if animal has died.
Arthritis Streptococcus suis, Arcanobacterium pyogenes, Haemophilus species, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, Mycoplasma species, Chlamydia species Entire joint from smaller animals. Joint swab in transport media or joint fluid in sterile syringe.
Black leg, gangrene disease Clostridium chauvoei, novyi, septicum, sordelli Fresh piece of muscle with lesion. Impression smear for fluorescent antibody test.
Botulism Clostridium botulinum Food suspected of containing toxin. Section of fresh intestine, tied off. Large section of liver. Serum. Samples may be forwarded to NVSL.
Bovine respiratory disease Haemophilus somnus, Pasteurella multocida, Mannheimia hemolytica, Mycoplasma species, other bacteria Nasal swab in transport medium. Transtracheal wash. Portion of affected lung.
Brucellosis Brucella ovis, etc. Aborted fetus stomach contents, placenta. Mammary lymph nodes and milk sample.
Campylobacteriosis, bovine and ovine Campylobacter fetus, Campylobacter jejuni Fetus, cervical mucus, preputial wash, or semen. Deliver fresh within 5-6 hours of collection or freeze specimens and transport on dry ice. Transport medium can be ordered from lab.
Campylobacteriosis, canine and equine Campylobacter jejuni Fresh rectal/fecal swabs, feces.
Chlamydial infections Chlamydia psittaci Abortions - affected cotyledon, vaginal swabs, fetal lung and liver. Arthritis - aspirated synovial fluid. Birds - lung, cloaca, and feces. Feline - tracheal wash, nasal and conjuctival swabs.
Colibacillosis Escherichia coli Live, sick animal. Intestines and feces.
Corynebacterial pneumonia of foals Rhodococcus (Corynebacterium) equi Transtracheal aspirate/wash. Nasal discharge swab. Fresh lung and lymph nodes with lesions.
Cystitis Escherichia coli, Proteus species, Enterococcus, Staphylococcus aureus Fresh urine in sterile tube.
Dermatomycosis Microsporum and Trichophyton species Plucked hair and skin scrapings sent dry in envelope. Fresh and formalized sections of skin.
Dermatophilosis Dermatophilus congolensis Scabs, crust and plucked hair. Skin biopsy after scab removal, fresh and fixed.
Edema disease Escherichia coli Live, sick pig.
Enterotoxemia Clostridium perfringens Several ounces of fresh intestinal contents in tube or bag. Cool and transport as soon as possible to the VDL. If interested in preserving toxin, freezing of ileal contents is preferred.
Erysipelas Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae Acute form - heart blood, kidney, spleen, liver.
Arthritic and cardiac form ? joints and heart valves (swabs in transport medium).
Exudative epidermitis, Greasy pig disease Staphylococcus hyicus, Streptococcus species Clean skin with soap, water and alcohol, scrape lesions and send to lab on swab in transport medium or in sterile tube.
Glasser's disease Haemophilus parasuis Live, sick pig. Brain, heart, lung, and fluids from joints, etc. Mailed in swabs are NOT acceptable.
Johne's disease Mycobacterium paratuberculosis Ileocecal valve, mesenteric lymph nodes, mucosal scrapings. Rectally-collected fecal samples in separate screw cap tubes or Whirl-Pak® bags. Contact the lab one week prior to submission if the case involves >20 samples. Allow 16 weeks for culture.
Keratoconjunctivitis, bovine Moraxella bovis, Branhamella ovis Conjuctival swabs from "wet faced" calves (sample 3-6 calves). Send in transport medium.
Leptospirosis Leptospira species Fluids and urine for darkfield examination.
Kidney tissue for fluorescent antibody test.
Listeriosis Listeria monocytogenes Neural form - brain stem, fresh and fixed. Visceral form - liver, fresh and fixed. Abortion form - fetus and placenta or fetal stomach contents.Feed sample.
Lymphadenitis Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, Streptococcus species Abscessed tissue and lymph nodes.Pus in syringe or sterile tube.
Mastitis Staphylococcus species, Streptococcus species, Mycoplasma species Avoid bacterial contamination of samples. Clean and dry udders, strip several streams of milk before starting collection. Collect 1-2 streams from each quarter into sterile snap cap or screw-cap tubes held at angle. A veterinarian should collect the samples. Refrigerate immediately and maintain at 4º C until cultured. If culture will not be performed within 24 hours, samples may be frozen up to 2 weeks.
Meningitis Streptococcus species, Streptococcus suis, Haemophilus somnus, Cryptococcus neoformans Cerebrospinal fluid and brain.
Mycoplasma infections Mycoplasma species May include mucosal scrapings, tracheal exudates, and aspirates; lung tissue with bronchi, joint fluids and milk. Submit in tubes placed within Whirl-Pak® bags. Submit swabs in Amies with charcoal. Refrigerate and deliver within 24 hours of collection. Alternatively, samples can be frozen and shipped frozen.
Nocardiosis Nocardia asteroides Exudate from lesion. Excision may be necessary. Thoracocentesis or tracheal wash may be used.
Otitis externa Proteus species, Pseudomona species, Staphylococcus species, Streptococcus species, Yeasts (Malessezia pachydermatis) Culturette with transport medium.
Pleuropneumonia of swine Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae Portion of affected lung with lesion.
Porcine proliferative enteritis Lawsonia intracellularis Ileum and feces.
Pyelonephritis, bovine Corynebacterium renale Midstream sample of urine. Portion of affected kidney, ureter, bladder and urethra.
Salmonellosis Salmonella species Intestine, liver, spleen, lung and lymph nodes. Feces or fecal swabs from live animals w/ signs.
Strangles Streptococcus equi Pus or fluid from abscess on swab in transport medium or in syringe.
Swine dysentery and spirochetal colitis Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, Brachyspira species Live, sick pig. Spiral colon, colonic scrapings, feces, or rectal swabs.
Trichomoniasis Trichomonas species Preputial wash, semen sample, or vaginal mucous sample sent in TM pouch. (Contact Biomed Diagnostics 800-677-2855 for Transport Media pouch).
Ureaplasma Ureaplasma species Vaginal swabs from cow. Respiratory samples.Submit swabs in Amies medium.
Water quality analysis Coliforms Minimum of 100 ml of water in a sterile container.