What is required by the law and your carrier is probably far from what is being done daily in many practices. The best way to comply is to contact your diagnostic lab and check on its requirements. The following recommendations were provided by Vicky Bell at our lab, Animal Pathology Group in Dallas.
The way diagnostic specimens should be packaged and transported was defined in a final rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2003.
Diagnostic specimens must be packaged in triple packaging comprising:
• A primary receptacle: Primary receptacles must be packed in secondary packaging in such a way that, under normal conditions of transport, they cannot break, be punctured or leak their contents into the secondary packaging.
• Leak-proof secondary packaging: The secondary packaging must be secured in the outer packaging with suitable cushioning material such that any leakage of the contents will not impair the protective properties of the cushioning material or the outer packaging. If several fragile primary receptacles are placed in a single secondary packaging, they must be individually wrapped or separated to prevent contact among them.
• Outer packaging: The completed package must be capable of successfully passing the drop test at a drop height of at least 1.2 meters (3.9 feet). There is no size limit to parcels containing animal bodies or body parts.
• The outer packaging must be clearly and durably marked with the words “Diagnostic Specimen.”
Diagnostic specimen shipments by air additionally require that:
• The primary receptacle or the secondary container is capable of withstanding, without leakage, an internal pressure of 95 kpa (14 psi)
• The outer packaging does not exceed 4 L (1 gallon) capacity. Note: This volume limitation does not apply to parcels containing “animal body parts, whole organs or whole bodies even if known to contain or suspected of containing an infectious substance.”
However, the outer package must be labeled to indicate that the contents are subject to special provision 49CFR A82.