- How long should I expect to wait after submitting samples for results?
- Why are test prices different for different pathogens?
- Why are your prices higher than other veterinary molecular diagnostic laboratories?
- How do I receive results and how do I pay for the testing?
- I don’t see a specific test listed; can you still help me?
- Do you offer discounts for multiple tests or large numbers of samples?
- I am submitting a swab for PCR, should it be placed in any preservative or liquid prior to shipping?
- Why do you only offer a subset of PCR tests for formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues? What is the process for submitting those samples?
- I am not a veterinarian, researcher, or wildlife biologist, but am interested in testing. Can I still submit tests directly to the ZMDx Lab?
- Do you also offer other types of testing for captive and free-ranging wildlife species?
- What happens if there is an interest in publishing data generated by the ZMDx Lab? Or if data generated from our submissions is used in a possible publication?
How long should I expect to wait after submitting samples for results?
We aim for a turnaround time of approximately 10-12 business days for all submitted samples. However, this can vary due to a number of factors. Negative and qPCR results may be reported sooner, while most samples that require conventional PCR reactions followed by sequencing and sequence analysis are generally at the tail end of that window. There may also be periods of high lab sample volume that can delay reporting. While we do not offer official expedited testing, if there are instances where patient/herd/collection health is of concern, please reach out to us at VMemail@example.com and we will work with as much as possible to get you the needed results.
Why are test prices different for different pathogens?
There are a couple of determinants of test pricing. The first is the type of nucleic acid target (RNA vs. DNA). Materials for RNA extraction and PCR are higher than those for DNA targets, and that is the basis for the RNA/DNA price difference. Quantitative (real-time) PCR assays utilize a different technology and do not need to be sequence confirmed. The lack of need of sequence confirmation decreases the test price.
Why are your prices higher than other veterinary molecular diagnostic laboratories?
This is an important question, and one we get often. At the same time, we wonder ourselves how some labs can charge so little and be confident in their results. For all tests run at the ZMDx Lab, concurrent positive and negative controls are also run. This ensures that sample amplification is inherent to the sample and that the assay is working on a known positive sample. All appropriately sized amplicons from conventional PCR tests are gel extracted, prepared and processed for bidirectional commercial Sanger sequencing, and resultant sequence is analyzed by the ZMDx Lab co-directors. While this is additional work and contributes to the turnaround time, we feel it is essential to provide the most accurate results to our clients. Whether a positive or negative result, we want you to have confidence the information you have is the most accurate possible. You are also receiving result interpretation from two experts in zoo, exotic, and wildlife veterinary medicine, which can go a long way in interpreting the significance of the result.
We also think it is important to note that the ZMDx Lab operates as a not-for-profit lab. The revenue generated from sample submissions is used to pay for the supplies and equipment to run the tests, the freezers to archive your submissions, the University for the usage of the space, and to compensate our laboratory manager and technician(s) for their hard work. The ZMDx Lab co-directors do not receive financial compensation from the lab. All revenue generated in excess of operational costs is used for research projects, publication costs, and the development of new diagnostic tests. By supporting the ZMDx Lab, you are supporting the future of zoological, exotic, and wildlife veterinary medicine.
How do I receive results and how do I pay for the testing?
Once your test results are completed and verified, you will receive a copy of your test results via email. If you wish multiple individuals to receive results, please indicate that clearly on the submission form. You will also receive an invoice for your testing once your results are completed. Payment instructions are included with the invoice, but we can accept checks and/or money orders mailed to the lab, or credit cards electronically here.
I don’t see a specific test listed; can you still help me?
If you do not see a specific test listed, please still reach out to us at VMfirstname.lastname@example.org. We may have the test in development, or we may have the appropriate primers and reagents, but due to infrequent requests or need, it may not be listed. And if we don’t have the test, there is still the chance we will be able to help you by designing one.
Do you offer discounts for multiple tests or large numbers of samples?
Whenever possible, we aim to keep client costs as low as possible. If you are submitting a single sample for multiple DNA OR RNA targets, there is a discount after the first test fee because the sample only needs to be extracted once for each type of nucleic acid. So, for example, if you order three RNA tests, the first test will be full price ($130), but each subsequent test will only be $100 each. The same would go for multiple DNA tests – the first test is full price ($100), but each subsequent will be $70 each. Unfortunately, as RNA and DNA need to be extracted separately, if you order 1 DNA and 1 RNA test, each will be at full price.
If submitting a large number of samples, please email us at VMemail@example.com to discuss possible pricing options.
I am submitting a swab for PCR, should it be placed in any preservative or liquid prior to shipping?
It is our preference that swabs be shipped fresh and preservative or fixative free, with coolant (frozen ice or gel packs) overnight. This preference is based on the optimization of our assays and potential dilution effects of preservatives. However, if samples have already been placed in a preservative or buffer (such as ethanol or nucleic acid stabilization solutions), we can still perform the requested testing. Just make sure to let us know on the submission form what the samples are preserved in.
Why do you only offer a subset of PCR tests for formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues? What is the process for submitting those samples?
The process of formalin-fixation results in protein-protein crosslinking that cases severe, time-sensitive nucleic acid fragmentation. We generally consider an assay to be suitable for FFPE if it is either a quantitative PCR (real-time or qPCR) or a conventional PCR with an amplicon size less than 500 base pairs; for nested or heminested PCR assays, the first-round amplicon needs to also be 500 base pairs or less. For amplicons of this size, samples that have sat in formalin for up to 72-84 hours are generally reliable. For formalin fixation time greater than 72-84 hours, only our qPCR assays or conventional PCR assays with amplicons of approximately 200 bp or less are considered reliable. If tissues were preserved in formalin for a very short period before processing (24h or less), most of our assays will work reliably. To submit FFPE samples, we request ~ 3 scrolls 6 microns in thickness in a microcentrifuge tube. Blocks can also be submitted to us, though there is an additional fee for the cutting of sections from the block and for the return of the block. For more information on these costs, please email VMfirstname.lastname@example.org.
I am not a veterinarian, researcher, or wildlife biologist, but am interested in testing. Can I still submit tests directly to the ZMDx Lab?
In general, we only accept samples from veterinarians, researchers, or wildlife biologists, and not directly from non-veterinarians/pet owners. There are a number of reasons for this, but perhaps the most important is that the lab co-directors are not able to spend the additional time necessary for interpreting results or assisting with disease mitigation/treatment due to the number of roles we each hold. This is best done by a veterinarian you are already working closely with.
However, there can be some flexibility with this directive, particularly if it relates to disease screening in collections or quarantine animals. If you would like to potentially submit samples and you are not a veterinary professional, researcher, or wildlife agency employee, please contact Dr. Ossiboff (email@example.com) to discuss this further.
Do you also offer other types of testing for captive and free-ranging wildlife species?
The ZMDx Laboratory offers exclusively molecular testing at this time. Historically, the lab did offer paramyxovirus serology testing, but due to uncertainty in clinical result interpretation, we have discontinued this testing and exclusively rely on PCR detection. However, there are other options within UFCVM that might meet your needs.
The UF Aquatic, Amphibian, and Reptile Pathology Service offers a complete suite of pathology options, including Clinical Pathology interpretation (blood smears, fluid analysis, cytologic analysis) and Anatomic Pathology testing (biopsies, histologic assessment of gross tissues, gross and histologic assessment of fresh tissues) for all non-domestic species. For more information, contact Dr. Ossiboff (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The laboratory of Dr. Heather Walden offers parasitology testing, including fecal analysis and internal and external parasite morphologic identification. In conjunction with her laboratory, we offer combined morphologic/molecular parasite characterization at a discount. For more information, contact Nina Thompson (email@example.com).
For cases of sick or injured wildlife or nondomestic pets in north central Florida, you can contact the University of Florida Veterinary Hospital Call Center at 352-392-2235 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In all of the aforementioned instances, cross-laboratory collaboration will allow for molecular characterization of case material by the ZMDx Laboratory where applicable.
What happens if there is an interest in publishing data generated by the ZMDx Lab? Or if data generated from our submissions is used in a possible publication?
As you may have guessed from the info on our website, the ZMDX Lab holds peer-reviewed publication of novel or unique findings as one of the greatest responsibilities of academicians. If you submit sample(s) that produce results you would like to publish, please just reach out to us. For straightforward test results, we are happy to provide you appropriate information regarding the methods and testing for your paper. For more involved investigations, we are also able and willing to help with sequence comparisons and/or phylogenetic analysis. For papers with more detailed molecular work-ups, we generally request to be study co-authors. But for straightforward result reporting, acknowledgment of our contribution is plenty.
We will occasionally use ZMDx archived samples as part of retrospective or pathogen characterization studies. In such instances, particularly in the case of novel species or strains of pathogens, we will always reach out to submitting institutions prior to paper submission to gain permission and appropriately attribute the submitted material.