The Rabies Laboratory at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) is the only rabies diagnostic laboratory in Wisconsin. The WSLH Rabies Laboratory works closely with epidemiologists at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (WDPH) and personnel from other state and federal agencies as part of a comprehensive rabies control program.
The WSLH Rabies Laboratory receives between 2,000 and 2,500 animal specimens from throughout Wisconsin for testing each year. Immunofluorescent tests are performed directly on samples of selected regions of the brain of the animal specimen. Additional testing of positive samples is performed to determine the type of rabies virus present.
In addition to providing diagnostic testing services, the WSLH also administers a rabies proficiency testing program for rabies laboratories throughout the U.S.
Test Results/Specimen Handling/Laboratory Testing
WSLH Clinical Customer Service
7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. M-F
Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
2601 Agriculture Drive, PO Box 7904
Madison, WI 53718
Human Exposure Management
Wisconsin Division of Public Health
(After-hours emergency contact: 608-258-0099; this emergency telephone number is for the use of health care professionals only.)
Animal Exposure Management
Yvonne Bellay, DVM, MS
State Humane Officer
Division of Animal Health, WDATCP
- Monday through Friday, specimens received prior to 1 p.m. are tested the day they are received, with results available after 3:30 p.m.
- Specimens received after 1 p.m. will be tested the next working day, with results available after 3 p.m.
- WSLH staff will accept and store specimens that are received on Saturdays prior to 12:30 p.m.
- Specimens that arrive on Saturday will be tested the following Monday, unless special arrangements have been made through the Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section (CDES) of the WI Division of Public Health.
- After-hours emergency contact: 608-258-0099; this emergency telephone number is for the use of health care professionals only.
- The State Public Health Veterinarian or other assigned CDES staff will decide whether Saturday testing is warranted, based on whether someone will need to begin rabies post-exposure prophylaxis unless weekend testing is performed.
- You must provide a contact name and phone number to receive telephoned results if you request weekend testing. The contact may be a local public health department staff member or a health care provider who will contact the patient and arrange for prophylaxis, if required. Results will not be telephoned to the animal owner or exposed person.
Fee for Testing
There is a fee for rabies testing but it may be waived in cases where testing is approved by the local health department. Testing can be performed on a fee-for-service basis in cases that are not approved. Find the latest fees in our Clinical Testing Reference Manual. Contact WSLH Customer Service (800-862-1013) if you have questions about testing fees.
(Available after 3 p.m., Monday-Friday)
- Human Exposure cases
- “Positive” results are phoned to the designated physician, the submitter and the local health department with jurisdiction in the case. Hard copy reports are mailed to all of the above.
- “Indeterminate” or “Not Done” results are phoned to the physician and the local health department of jurisdiction. The physician, the submitter and the local health department receive hard copy reports.
- “Negative” results are phoned by request only. Hard copy reports are mailed to the physician, submitter and local health department.
- Animal Exposure cases
- “Positive” results are phoned to the veterinarian of record, the submitter if different from the veterinarian and the local health department of jurisdiction. All of the above receive hard copy reports.
- “Indeterminate” or “Not Done” results are phoned to the veterinarian (or submitter) and the local health department of jurisdiction. The veterinarian/submitter and local health department of jurisdiction receive hard copy reports.
- “Negative” results are phoned by request only. Hard copy reports are mailed to the veterinarian/submitter and the local health department of jurisdiction.
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