Chapter 9 - Emergency Situations
9.3 Response

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9.3.1 Risk Determination: Low Risk versus High Risk

Response activities at the registered establishment will depend on whether this is deemed a low or high risk situation. In low risk situations, the response activities and impacts are minimal. In high risk situations, the response activities are extensive, which includes ordering movement restrictions on any vehicles entering or exiting the registered establishment. The Veterinarian in Charge (VIC) will consult with the Area FAD Program Specialist as to whether the situation is to be considered a Low Risk or a High Risk of being a FAD. Digital photographs should be sent to the Area MH or FAD Program Specialists to aid in determination of the level of risk. In case of a prolonged delay in being able to contact the AH FAD or the Area MH Program Specialist, there should be a secondary contact designated by the FAD Program Specialist that the VIC can contact in the short term.

Support of CFIA activities from plant management will be required during the risk determination phase. This is an important decision phase as the outcome may lead to extensive collaborative response efforts. (Refer to the diagram of the sequence of events in Annex F and Annex G of this chapter).

For poultry, risk determination will be based on the severity and nature of the clinical signs, and lesions observed in the suspect animals, the total number and the percentage of animals in the lot that are affected, the history as indicated in the flock sheet when available, post-mortem examinations when required and the mortality rate.

For livestock, risk determination will be based on a complete physical examination by the VIC / FAD diagnostician of the affected animals, the severity and nature of the clinical signs, and lesions observed in the suspect animals, necropsy results, and any available history.

When the above mentioned criteria have been reviewed by the VIC and Area MH or FAD Program Specialists and fit with a known FAD, the situation will be deemed High Risk. If not, the situation will be deemed Low Risk.

In order to follow up and support the risk determination associated within the abattoir, the contact information for the farm of origin must be forwarded quickly to the Local District veterinarian, via the Part A 1.2 of the Premises Investigation Questionnaire (PIQ). This will initiate a premises investigation to the farm of origin. The farm of origin will be contacted by the local District Veterinarian and Part A of the PIQ filled out. If the VIC does not know who the Local District Veterinarian associated with the farm of origin is, the FAD specialist or the Meat Hygiene Program Specialist can assist the VIC in identifying the right person to contact.

The answers to the following questions must be available so as to assist the Area MH or FAD Program Specialist with the risk determination at the abattoir:

  • Are the clinical signs typical of the disease you suspect?
  • Are a number of animals in the lot affected? What percent of the lot is affected? What is the morbidity?
  • What is the mortality rate? What is the number of dead on arrival?
  • Can you explain the mortality by extenuating circumstances such as weather, transport time or distance?
  • Does the flock sheet support an illness in the flock and/or high mortality?
  • Does the truck driver have any additional information?

As a general principle, when one animal or carcass is suspected of being infected with a FAD, all animals or carcasses from the same farm source or supplier must be detained and isolated until an investigation can be carried out.

Management must be informed of all limitations on plant operations which will be necessary, and their cooperation required. It should be emphasized that the restrictions early on in the control period are designed to minimize the financial impact on the establishment as well as the Canadian livestock industry in its entirety. Failing to implement appropriate measures could result in a widely disseminated foreign animal disease with much higher economic impacts for the plant and industry as a whole.

If the disease has zoonotic potential, then staff must don the appropriate personal protective equipment.

9.3.1.1 Low Risk

If a situation is deemed low risk, the following actions will be taken:

  • If the lesions are observed at the ante-mortem, the suspect animals are segregated and sampled while non suspect animals are sent to the kill floor. If possible, the suspect animals should be slaughtered at the end of the shift. The carcasses originating from the suspect animals showing clinical signs at ante-mortem (section 9.3.2.1) or lesions at post-mortem (section 9.3.2.2) will be detained and further samples taken. All non-suspect carcasses from the same lot will undergo normal processing.
  • If the lesions on the suspect animals are observed on the slaughter or evisceration floor, the suspect carcasses on which lesions are observed at post-mortem will be closely examined, detained and then samples will be collected. The final disposition of the detained product originating from the suspect animal will be decided based on the testing results and the confirmed diagnosis. All non-suspect carcasses from the same lot will undergo normal processing. All remaining animals from the same lot at ante-mortem will be closely examined.
  • Sampling: samples are to be sent to the appropriate laboratory as "Confirmatory Negative". Animal Health staff may assist with packaging, shipment, submission into the Laboratory Sample Tracking System (LSTS) and notification.
  • Tracebacks: the farm of origin information will be quickly transferred via the PIQ, Part A 1.2 to the district veterinarian for a follow up on the premises.
  • Segregation: all product from the suspect animals and carcasses will be detained until diagnostic results are known. All non suspect animals will be processed normally. The disposal of inedibles and waste may occur normally.
  • No specific biocontainment measures of staff and vehicles will be applied on site.
  • When the situation is deemed low risk, no cleaning and disinfection of specific areas are required on site during the slaughter shift but specific cleaning and disinfecting procedures for the exposed slaughter areas could be required during the plant cleaning shift (i.e.: specific disinfectant required, extra measures in the ante-mortem area, etc.).

Other than the time required to undertake the risk determination phase, the plant will be allowed to continue operations.

9.3.1.2 High Risk

If a situation is deemed high risk the following actions will be taken, keeping in mind the appropriate bio-containment measures:

  • If the lesions are observed at the ante-mortem, the suspect animals are segregated and sampled while non suspect animals are sent to the kill floor. If possible, the suspect animals should be slaughtered at the end of the shift. The carcasses originating from the suspect animals showing clinical signs at ante-mortem or lesions at post-mortem will be detained and further samples taken. All carcasses and products originating from suspect animals and animals of the same origin will be detained. The final disposition of the detained product will be decided based on the testing results and the confirmed diagnosis. Appropriate bio-containment measures will be taken. No cleaning and disinfection will be required during the slaughter shift if the non-suspect animals are slaughtered before the suspect ones. A complete cleaning and disinfection of all exposed areas including ante-mortem, approved by the CFIA, will be required on site before the resumption of operation.
  • If the lesions on the suspect animals are observed on the kill floor, the suspect carcasses on which lesions are observed will be closely examined, detained, including products and samples will be collected. It is important to identify all animals and/or carcasses from the same origin. After ensuring that slaughter staff has any required personal protective equipment, the slaughter would be allowed to resume processing these animals. Processing would occur at a slow enough speed to allow increased inspection and the collection of samples and quantification (number of carcasses affected) of significant pathological lesions. All carcasses and products originating from suspect animals and animals of the same origin will be detained. The final disposition of the detained product will be decided based on the testing results and the confirmed diagnosis. All remaining animals from the same origin at ante-mortem will be closely examined and all animals from that origin will be moved to the kill floor for immediate slaughter. A complete cleaning and disinfection of the exposed slaughter floor will be required before resuming the slaughter of the awaiting non suspect animals. A repeat of complete cleaning and disinfection of all exposed areas including ante-mortem, approved by the CFIA, will be required on site before the resumption of operation.
  • Sampling: samples are to be sent to the appropriate laboratory as "High Risk". Animal Health staff may assist with packaging, shipment, submission into the LSTS and notification.
  • Tracebacks: the farm of origin information will be quickly transferred via the PIQ Part A 1.2 to the district veterinarian for a follow up on the premises. The CFIA staff at the slaughter plant, in collaboration with the operator, will also initiate other trace-back activities such as locating the vehicle responsible for the transport of the suspect animals and obtaining their daily schedule.
  • Segregation / disposal: the product will be detained until diagnostic results are known. Inedible products and waste will be segregated on site and will not be authorized to leave the slaughter plant and be disposed of until the diagnosis is confirmed.
  • The plant will be declared an "Infected Place" (CFIA/ACIA 4204, See Module 15 of the Common Procedures Manual) - (Internal access only). There will be no further animals admitted to the plant, and when all animals on site have been slaughtered, all slaughter operations will cease until the Declaration of an Infected Place has been released. No products, by-products, waste materials, vehicles or people will be allowed to leave the premises without adequate cleaning and disinfecting.
  • The plant will not be allowed to resume operation until the Declaration of the Infected Place has been lifted.

9.3.2 Time of Detection of a FAD

9.3.2.1 Detection During Ante-mortem Examination

Ante-mortem is clearly the optimal time to detect a disease, as the symptoms of many FADs would be most evident in the live animal. This will also allow for the segregation of all the animals from the same source, for in depth ante-mortem examination, for sample collection from the live animals which has to be done keeping animal welfare in mind. The decision to euthanise the animal for sampling must be taken in consultation with a FAD specialist. The suspect animals should be held for separate slaughter, preferably at the end of the kill, to avoid cross contamination, and for detailed post-mortem examination and sampling. This may also lessen the contamination of the kill and evisceration floors thus affecting the required control actions such as bio-containment and cleaning and disinfection, if needed.

9.3.2.2 Detection During Post-mortem Examination

If the disease is detected during post-mortem inspection, all carcasses of the same origin must be closely examined for the presence of lesions. It may be required to stop the line in order to permit the examination of the carcasses and sample collection on those showing lesions. The required control actions such as biocontainment and cleaning and disinfection will differ somewhat due to the potential for contamination of a larger surface such as of the ante-mortem area, the kill floor, the evisceration area, and possibly even the post-slaughter storage areas (i.e. chillers, freezers). Refer to section 9.3.1.1 and section 9.3.1.2 for detailed response activities.

9.3.3 Initial Response - Communication, Control and Quarantine, Traceback, Samples, Cleaning and Disinfection, Disposal, Record of Activities

9.3.3.1 Notification/Communication

After risk determination, the VIC will immediately explain the concerns about a potential FAD, and the required actions, to plant management.

Using the list of contacts (from the contingency plan), the VIC has to inform both Operations and Programs. The contacts who have already been involved in the risk determination will begin to mobilize the network of responders, and start the flow of information (e.g. FAD specialist and Inspection manager can contact District Veterinarian and RVO respectively). This will help the VIC to focus on performing and co-ordinating the activities within the slaughter establishment.

The operator will contact the respective departments, the employees, the suppliers, the truckers, and possibly the customers as the situation unfolds. If necessary, the operator will also contact producers and industry associations to update them as the situation unfolds. (See sample message in Annex E of this chapter.)

For further information see the Emergency Response Part 6 of the Animal Health Functional Plan (AHFP) - (Internal access only).

9.3.3.2 Movement Control

Early control of the movement of animals, products, equipment and people is the key to preventing the spread of a disease. In the high risk situation, the entire establishment is to be declared an infected place by issuing form CFIA/ACIA 4204. In both high and low risk scenarios all suspect animals and carcasses showing lesions are held. In a high risk scenario, products originating from animals present in the same lot as suspect animals or carcasses showing lesions will also be held.

Low Risk: The suspect animals and carcasses showing lesions will be identified and segregated. This product should be placed in a separate cooler or separate area of the cooler under detention.

High Risk: All suspected and known contact animals and products from the same lot or source are to be identified. This product should be placed in a separate cooler or separate area of the cooler under detention.

In High Risk situations, the CFIA will suspend the movement of all animals, products and vehicles to and from the premises pending lifting of the Declaration of Infected Place. The movements on and off the premises will only be allowed through CFIA License (CFIA/ACIA 1509). The declaration of infected place will be lifted after receiving negative results from NCFAD and/or advice from the Program Specialists or Manager.

The CFIA should supervise the arrival and departure of all personnel. If departures are absolutely necessary, any personnel having contacted suspected animals, carcasses or portions should shower and, either change or disinfect clothing. Boots, shoes and vehicles should be cleaned before allowing people to leave the establishment. Departing personnel should be advised to stay away from susceptible species until the situation is resolved. Unavoidable arrivals should not be permitted contact with any suspicious or contact animals or products.

No inedible product, waste, animal food, bedding, feed, garbage, etc. can leave the premises unless the disposal poses no risk of disseminating the disease. In high risk situations, this material will be held on site until a diagnosis is established or ruled out.

9.3.3.3 Traceback

The VIC can assist in the subsequent investigation of the suspect case by beginning to accumulate the following information:

  • origin of suspect animals;
  • transportation used to bring suspects to the slaughterhouse;
  • all transportation vehicles having left the slaughter plant which may have had direct or indirect contact with suspect animals and their transportation vehicle/s (e.g. shared waiting period, common unloading docks). This includes all transportation vehicles having left the slaughter plant since the unloading of suspect animals;
  • the route and any other stops, and the present location of vehicle(s); and
  • time of arrival of suspects and the disposition of animals, products and plant waste (including inedible material) from that point.

9.3.3.4 Sampling

According to the disease specific standard operating procedures, hazard specific plan, and with guidance from Program Specialists, the harvesting of tissue specimens will begin. This will be the responsibility of the VIC, possibly with the help of the District Veterinarian according to the contingency plan. Either one may be asked to help with either the collection or the shipping. Samples obtained from live animals must be collected in a manner keeping in mind the welfare of the animal. In specific situations this might require that the animal showing lesions must be euthanised in order to collect the appropriate samples. The decision to euthanise or order the destruction should be taken in consultation with the FAD Program Specialist. Sample submission to the laboratory will be under the direction of the Area FAD specialist or in consultation with the Laboratory diagnostic co-ordinator. Packaging and shipping of samples will be performed by someone with a current Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) certification. Specimens from a suspected case of FAD must not be shipped without proper notification.

9.3.3.5 Cleaning and Disinfection

The operator should commence clean-up and disinfection measures as outlined in the contingency plan, (see section 9.2.4) under the supervision of the inspection staff who will rely on the advice of the Program Specialists. The activities will depend on the established level of risk (see sections 9.3.1.1 and 9.3.1.2) and the time of detection of the FAD.

9.3.3.6 Disposal

The normal routine for disposing of inedible and condemned material, including animal food, garbage, feathers, bedding, etc. may present a risk of spreading the disease and until the disease status is determined, the inspectors are to ensure that none of the above leaves the establishment unless the disposal is acceptable for the disease suspected.

As in the contingency plan, the operator is to verify whether the usual disposal methods are acceptable, whether a company providing disposal services would accept the material and be able to process or contain it in a manner that does not risk spread, and have alternatives which are acceptable for contaminated on infective material.

9.3.3.7 Record of Activities

Both the VIC and the operator should keep a record of all their activities, contacts, telephone calls, and decisions from start to finish of the situation. This is critical for any review and analysis of the response.

9.3.4 Awaiting Confirmation of Laboratory Diagnosis

The next critical span of time will come after the initial response and will be that period between the submission of specimens and confirmation of diagnosis. During this time frame, important activities such as tracing, segregation of products and by-products, cleaning and disinfection and movement control will continue.

The slaughter plant will resume normal activity once the Declaration of an Infected Place has been released. The Declaration of an Infected Place will be lifted after receiving negative results from NCFAD and/or advice from the Program Specialists or Manager. The decision to release the Declaration of an Infected Place will be based on the assessment of the risk associated with the slaughter plant that it is no longer identified as being a source of spread of the disease.

9.3.5 Confirmation of Diagnosis

A high risk determination or a confirmed diagnosis will mobilise the Animal Health Response Team (AHRT). The VIC will be expected to provide a written record of all actions they take and directions to this team about all establishment processes and procedures. Other directions concerning the activities of the Veterinarian in Charge and his staff during this period will come from the Incident Commander or the AHRT (See AHFP Chapter 6 - (Internal access only) for activities following High Risk submission.) Instructions regarding the resumption of normal operations will be received from the Incident Commander or the delegate.

9.3.6 The Role of the Abattoir in the Event an Outbreak Was Detected Somewhere Else

The abattoir may well be involved in various other aspects of the FAD emergency response such as being a traced premise receiving infected animals, depopulating animals within an area, testing animals, or in the storage of meat. Direction would come through operational channels after consultation with program staff.

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