Specimen Collection Guidelines

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Post- Mortem Specimens

Post-Mortem Tissue Samples


  • Barrier precautions: double gloves, sterile gown, eye goggles, mask
  • Aseptic surgical and biopsy instruments for collecting tissue specimens.
  • Sterile containers, sterile screw cap tubes or vials and slide box.
  • Fixatives: saline, appropriate viral and bacterial transport media.
  • Disinfectant such as household bleach 1:10.

For collecting blood and other fluids, refer to corresponding annex for materials.


Step Action
  • Use a separate sterile instrument for each tissue specimen from affected sites (several fragments with 1-2 grams of each is sufficient).
  • Smaller, but adequate, specimens are taken with a biopsy needle.
  • Place difference tissues in separate sterile containers containing the relevant medium:
    • Fixatives for histopathology,
    • Sterile saline for preparation of tissues for immunofluorescence microscopy
    • Microbiological transport media for the isolation of bacterial and viral pathogens.
3. Label all containers and tighten the screw caps firmly.
  • Other specimens are collected as per the relevant annex.
  • Blood may be taken from the heart cavities.
  • If cerebral malaria is suspected, make several smears from the cerebral cortex on glass slides to detect Plasmodium falciparum. Label the slides and transport in a slide box.


  • Fixed specimens can be stored at ambient temperatures
  • Tissue specimens for isolation of bacterial pathogens can be transported at ambient temperature in transport media for up to 24 hours.
  • Transport tissue specimens for isolation or viral pathogens in viral transport medium or sterile saline at 4-8oC for 24-48 hours. For longer periods, freeze and store at -70°C.
  • If rabies is suspected and brain samples are collected, freeze unfixed specimens immediately after collection. Formalin fixed samples are also useful and may be transported at ambient temperature.