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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
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Writing Guidelines: Protocol for the Diagnostic Response to Sick / Dead Animals

This is a view of the template showing the outline of the Protocol for the Diagnostic Response to Sick / Dead Animals section of an Outbreak Surveillance Plan. Instructions are in green and should be deleted from the final draft.


Protocol for the Diagnostic Response to Sick/Dead [insert species]

[Example narrative]
Sick or dead [insert species] calls into the [insert name of Task Force] are the most efficient and effective means of surveillance for [insert name of disease]. Many of these calls may be the result of [insert name of Task Force] outreach and survey activity. Therefore, an appropriate, consistent response is essential for [insert name of disease] detection, resource utilization, and public perception.

Depending on the animal’s history, clinical signs, and geographical area, the [insert name of Task Force] must determine whether to send a [insert name of Task Force] diagnostician to investigate and obtain samples from the caller’s premises or whether to refer the caller to a private veterinary practitioner. Any possibility of [insert name of disease] should result in the initiation of a diagnostic visit by the [insert name of Task Force]. If a caller is referred to a private veterinary practitioner, he or she should receive a follow-up call from the [insert name of Task Force] within [insert number] days and should be asked about the [insert species] diagnosis and the outcome of the case.

The presence of any of the following factors should result in a [insert name of Task Force] visit:

  • A non-negative surveillance test result
  • Request from a private veterinary practitioner
  • Request from a livestock owner
  • Deemed necessary by task force due to epidemiological evidence

In order to follow up on dead [insert species] calls, the Task Force needs GPS coordinates for each dead [insert species] you find. Be sure to record those coordinates and inform the personnel who take your call. If you do not have a GPS unit, record the address of the dead [insert species].

If a member of the public informs you of a dead [insert species], please record the address, and determine how long the [insert species] has been dead. If the [insert species] has been dead less than 24 hours, ask the caller to [insert appropriate language, e.g. bag and refrigerate the dead bird] until the appropriate officials can come and claim the [insert species]. If the [insert species] has been dead for more than 24 hours, ask the caller to [insert appropriate language, e.g. bag the bird and place it in the trash].

The caller should be referred to a private veterinarian if the sick [insert species]:

  • Is not located in the Infected Zone
  • Is  not among recently purchased livestock
  • Is not known to have contact with a known Infected Premises, and
  • Not exhibiting clinical signs consistent with [insert disease]
The telephone operator must have a questionnaire to fill out with each caller to identify or eliminate any of these criteria.

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