Hygiene Protocols for the Prevention and Control of Diseases (Particularly Beak and Feather Disease) in Australian Birds

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006

9. Collection of Samples for Submission to a Laboratory

Tissue samples will need to be collected from:

  • captive threatened species:
    1. as part of regular disease monitoring; or
    2. from a dead or sick bird
  • wild species:
    1. from a dead or sick bird; or
    2. as part of a disease investigation program

In Australia, private laboratories supply equipment when you sign up to have them process samples from birds. These usually consist of a selection of blood collection tubes, sterile swabs, sterile swabs with transport medium, 60 mL plastic specimen containers, specimen carrier bags with flap for specimen form, specimen forms and consignment notes.

Contact the laboratory (State, private or other) or State Australian Wildlife Health Network (AWHN) coordinator prior to collecting samples to ensure that your samples are appropriate for your investigation.

Note that most private laboratories no longer offer a service for necropsy examination of birds, but do provide services for testing of avian necropsy specimens.

When submitting samples to a laboratory:

  • Always label containers (NOT THE LID) with the species of bird, your ID number, location of collection, the date and a description of the sample contained.
  • All labels must be written in indelible ink or pencil (do not use ball-point pens)
  • Do not submit needles or syringes;
  • Notify the laboratory of any hazard;
  • Notify the laboratory of any processing you have done (eg. fixing a blood smear with isopropyl alcohol).
  • Always use clean instruments (ie, not your necropsy instruments) to collect tissue samples for microbiology. Always collect tissue samples for microbiology before you touch tissues with your necropsy instrument or gloved hands.

Sample collection is covered in the document  Collection of Samples (PDF - 51 KB).

You should also see  Equipment Lists (PDF - 37 KB).