Rabies virus RNA detection by qPCR

Last updated on 5-2-2024 by Sanne Terryn

Description of the test 


The test can be performed in the frame of an antemortemdiagnosis in case of a clinically suspect patient using saliva, urine, cerebrospinal fluid or nervous tissue (brain). Blood and serum samples will not be accepted for this test since the virus can not be detected in these type of samples. 



In case of a positive results, genotyping will be performed to determine the viral species.

Retention period of samples and period in which retests can be requested (if enough sample is available): maximum 1 year

Purpose of the test 

Diagnosis of rabies — Detection of viral RNA of the rabies virus by PCR

Criteria for the performance of this test in the context of the reference activities

Clinical case of encephalitis/myelitis and: 

  • after contact with an infected animal
  • after contact (bite, lick, scratch, …) with an animal in a rabies endemic region
  • with typical symptoms of rabies like agitation, hypersalvation, hydrofobia, paralysis, …

Sampling instructions 

Type: saliva, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, nervous tissue

Storage and delivery:

  • After sampling, store cool (4 °C)
  • Fast delivery of the samples, by preference cooled
  • Hermetically sealed triple packaging of the samples

Stability of the sample: garanteed for one week if stored ≤ 37°C

Minimally required amount: 0.5 ml (saliva, urine, cerebrospinal fluid) or 1 cm³ (nervous tissue)

Unaccceptable requests

No clinical indication for a rabies virus infection

Serum/blood samples

Reporting of the results

In case of a positive result, the authorities and medical doctor of the patient will be contacted immediately.

Sending of analysis report: within the maximum term, by post to the requesting lab or medical doctor. Results can be automatically be delivered via fax, email or the eHealth Box as well. Please indicate this request on the application form.

If a non-conform sample has been received in the laboratory (e.g. broken tube, insufficient volume, …) the requestor will be contacted. 

Service in charge of the analysis

Contact person(s)

Contact email

Analysis categories


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