Specimen Reception update

Jim Fairles

Animal Health Laboratory, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON.                            

AHL Newsletter 2021;25(4):4.

Cold weather shipping reminder 

It’s that time of year again when we need to start thinking about preventing samples from freezing. Specimens such as EDTA blood are rendered useless when frozen.  Formalin will also freeze, creating artifacts in fixed tissue.  It can be difficult to protect samples shipped during the winter from severe cold. Even 10% neutral-buffered formalin will freeze in harsh winter weather conditions.  To prevent formalin freezing, add 1 mL of ethanol per 10 mL of formalin.

Samples that should not be frozen should be shipped inside insulated containers with minimal cold packs. Use of room temperature cold packs will help prevent temperatures from dipping too low.  If you have any concerns about the best way to ship critical samples, please contact the AHL.  ahlinfo@uoguelph.ca

Humane transport of live animals for postmortem

The AHL encourages submission of live animals for immediate euthanasia and postmortem, to ensure a high rate of diagnostic accuracy in poultry cases, and in outbreaks of diarrhea in young pigs and ruminants only.  We remind submitters that live animals must be transported humanely.  The Provincial Animal Welfare (PAW) Act requires that veterinarians report all suspected cases of animal abuse to the PAWS (Provincial Animal Welfare Services).  AHL veterinarians will confer with PAWS inspectors to determine if an investigation is warranted in suspected cases of inhumane transport.

Examples of inappropriate restraint and transportation methods include:

  • hog-tying calves, adult sheep or goats;
  • baby pigs or chickens placed in sealed plastic tubs or styrofoam containers;
  • pigs or chickens submitted in tied feed sacks;
  • compromised animals in open air (back of a truck) in any type of weather.

Examples of acceptable transport containers include:

  • dog or cat kennels for small pigs;
  • cardboard boxes of appropriate size with ventilation holes for baby pigs or chickens;
  • poultry crates;
  • large dog kennels or enclosed bedded truck cabs for larger pigs, calves, small ruminants.

All containers should be of sufficient size to avoid crowding or smothering, and animals should be protected from extreme temperatures.  Animals that cannot be transported humanely should be euthanized on-farm, and the practitioner is encouraged to collect appropriate samples for diagnostic testing.  Please contact the AHL and request a consultation with a pathologist if assistance is required for sample selection when performing on-farm postmortems.   AHL