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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

Develop a Surveillance Plan: Instructions

This is a step-by-step set of instructions for developing an outbreak surveillance plan. It is a general guideline; specific outbreak situations may require more (or less) information or detail than what is suggested in the Toolbox. You can also use the navigation tools on the right side of the browser window to find resources for developing each section of the surveillance plan.

View the Surveillance Plan Outline


1. Open the Outbreak Surveillance Plan Template (MS Word) as a read-only document. The template is a guide only and may be customized as needed.

2. Because of its read-only MS Word format,  the template must be saved under  a new name in order to keep the text that you add to it when building your surveillance plan.

 Tip: On most computers, you will need to click back and forth between the surveillance plan (Word document) and the browser-based toolbox as you complete the surveillance plan.  Some computers, however, have a large enough monitor (or two monitors) that will allow displaying the surveillance plan and the web-based toolbox simultaneously.

3. Review the general comments at the beginning of the Outbreak Surveillance Plan Template.

4. [Optional] Open the Checklist of Information Needed to Complete the Surveillance Plan. This is a quick list of the information that needs to be inserted into the surveillance plan by section. Instructions are provided in this toolbox on how to acquire or develop this information. This checklist is not necessary, but may be helpful to some users.

5. Fill in the sections of the Outbreak Surveillance Plan. Use either the Surveillance Plan Outline or the navigation tools on the right side of the browser window for links to resources for developing each section of the surveillance plan. Note that the Sampling Plan section (Section 4) is likely to require the most time to complete.

6. Add Miscellaneous Content sections to the surveillance plan as needed.

7. A list of Acronyms and Definitions is included at the end of the surveillance plan; you may use this as a starting point.

8. Use the Final Checklist to guide the final review of the outbreak surveillance plan.

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