3.1.6 Which laboratories are available for rabies diagnosis?

Regional laboratory facilities, national rabies laboratories, WHO Collaborating Centres for rabies and OIE reference laboratories. In most countries, diagnosis should be undertaken by regional veterinary laboratories or health department laboratories, in collaboration with the national rabies laboratory.

Sometimes veterinary faculties or private laboratories may be involved in animal rabies diagnosis, but the use of these diagnostic facilities may need to be authorised by competent authorities. In any case, it is essential that there be at least the minimum laboratory requirements (see 3.1.7) and a quality assurance framework (accreditation, standard operating procedures, regular proficiency testing, inter-laboratory comparison tests, etc.), with which all laboratories involved in rabies diagnosis must comply.

All positive samples should then be sent to the NRL for that country for confirmation and, if the local infrastructure is adequate, for further characterisation. The NRL then ought to report to OIE/WHO. Information about the location of regional and national diagnostic laboratories can generally be obtained through MoA or MoH. WHO Collaborating Centres and OIE Reference Laboratories for Rabies may provide support with characterisation of viruses.

Methods have been developed (i.e. brain suspensions deposited on filter paper (FTA) cards) for safe storage (at room temperature) and dispatch of samples to international laboratories. WHO Collaborating Centres and OIE Reference Laboratories for Rabies can also assist with provision of reagents and training, e.g. laboratory twinning initiatives which match laboratories in developing countries with expert institutions to enhance diagnostic capacity (more information or case studies can be found here).

Click here for the information on WHO Collaborating Centres and OIE Reference Laboratories for Rabies and FAO reference laboratories.


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Version 1 - Last updated November 2012