Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax) (PCR)

Preferred Sample

Whole blood, spleen



Acceptable Samples

Lymph node, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), pleural fluid, respiratory secretions, sputum, ear notches. Please note that processing of ear notch samples may delay the sample turnaround time.


Days Tested

As needed

Turnaround Time

24 hours with prior notice


This assay targets the DNA of a portion of the rpoB, pag, and cap genes from the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Positive samples for the rpoB gene will subsequently be tested for the presence of the pag and cap genes located on the pX01 and pX02 plasmids, respectively. Research has shown that pathogenic B. anthracis requires the presence of both the pX01 and pX02 plasmids. Apathogenic strains, such as those used for vaccines, may only have one plasmid. Also, other bacilli have tested positive for rpoB and one of the plasmids.


Bovine | Canine | Feline | Equine | Ovine | Caprine | Porcine | Wildlife Exotic | Other

Shipping Requirements

Samples must be received by 11:00 am of the test day along with prior notification of the laboratory to ensure the reported turn around time.

The submitter is responsible for adherence to sample shipping regulations. Suggested Shipping Protocol: Place primary sample container (blood collection tube) inside a secondary leak proof container such as a sealable bag with sufficient absorbent material (e.g. paper towels) to absorb liquid contents in the event of a spill or breakage; ship on frozen ice pack. Place paperwork inside separate sealable bag. Place all items above within an insulated inner box or pouch and label inner package “Anthrax suspect”. Do not write this on the outer box. Place the inner package inside a rigid outer cardboard box. Label for Biological Substance Category B, UN3373. Next day delivery is recommended. Review our submission guide for packaging and shipping information.

Do not place any other samples in the box. If the sample is positive, all other samples in the same container will be destroyed.

Additional Instructions

Necropsy should not be performed if anthrax is suspected. Peripheral blood is the preferred specimen in cattle. Send blood samples in red top tube without serum separator gel (plastic tube is preferred) or EDTA. Do not send syringes with needles still attached. This practice is dangerous and inappropriate. Samples submitted with needles will be rejected for testing.

Please call [(701) 231-7527 or (701) 231-8307] or email (using our contact form) prior to shipping or dropping off your specimen(s). Failure to notify the laboratory prior to submitting the specimen may result in a delay in test results.

In addition to blood, submit exudate or affected lymph nodes for horses and swine as blood may be falsely negative.