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Tuberculosis/Mycobacteriology Specimen Testing

Tuberculosis/Mycobacteriology Specimen Collection, Packaging & Shipping

External laboratories may be charged a fee per test. Contact the IDOH Lab for specific cost.

  1. Preferred specimen: Sputum; however, other specimen types may also be acceptable with prior approval.
  2. Volume/Amount required: 5-10 mL
  3. Collect sputum early in the morning before the patient eats or drinks. It should be raised directly from the lungs and deposited directly into the sterile plastic container. Saliva is unacceptable for testing. Sputa specimens should be collected at a minimum of eight hours apart.
  4. Label each specimen with a minimum of the patient’s name, date of birth, and date/time of specimen collection, including a minimum of two unique identifiers on the tube.
  5. Specimens should be submitted within 24 hours of collection whenever possible. Avoid batching shipments and ship using overnight delivery or a courier service.

6A kits can be ordered from the IDOH Containers Department through LimsNet or by emailing

Alternatively, sterile plastic disposable leakproof collection tubes and packaging and shipping materials meeting UN3373 Biological Substances, Category B standards may be used.

  1. After collection, tighten the specimen tube cap securely to avoid leakage. Leaking specimens are unacceptable for testing and will be discarded.
  2. Complete the LimsNet test request for Tuberculosis (AFB Smear and Culture), ensuring that the patient information on the specimen matches the information on the form.
  3. Specimens lacking completed information will not be tested until the missing information has been provided.
  4. If a delay in shipping is anticipated, be sure to keep the specimens refrigerated at 4° C prior to shipping to minimize the growth of contaminants.

Ship to:
Indiana Department of Health Laboratory
Attn: TB Lab
550 W. 16th St. - Suite B
Indianapolis, IN 46202

  1. Place the LimsNet coversheet in either the outer container or in a plastic bag to prevent contamination from the specimen.
  2. Wrap the labeled specimen collection tube with absorbent material and place it in the inner plastic shipping canister and tighten the cap securely.
  3. Place the inner plastic shipping canister in the outer shipping cardboard canister and tighten the cap securely.
  4. Complete the pre-addressed shipping label and affix it to the outer packaging with a return address and appropriate shipping labels. Specimens may be shipped via commercial service, such as UPS or FedEx.
  5. Specimens should be shipped to arrive at IDOH Monday through Friday. Shipping specimens which will be in transit during the weekend or holiday is not recommended.
  6. All patient specimens must be packaged and labeled in accordance with federal shipping regulations, using Biological Substances, Category B.
  1. Results will be reported by LimsNet.
  2. Preliminary results will be available within 1-3 business days after specimen receipt, and final culture results will be available within six weeks.
  3. PCR will be performed automatically for smear positive specimens for patients with an unknown TB status and for smear negatives upon request. Cultures will be identified using PCR or MALDI-TOF, and drug susceptibility testing will be performed automatically for newly identified TB patients.
  4. Isolates may be forwarded to the CDC or a reference laboratory for additional testing. Cultures identified as MTBC will be forwarded to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Bureau of Laboratories for genotyping studies as required by the IDOH Communicable Disease Rule.