Chapter 9 - Emergency Situations
9.5 Guidelines for Dealing With Other Reportable Diseases in Registered Slaughter Establishments

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The detection of any reportable disease must be reported to the appropriate Area Animal Health Program Specialist. Effective action can be taken by the Veterinarian in Charge for the following diseases while awaiting the arrival of assistance from the District Veterinarian and/or Area Animal Health Program Specialist. A suspicion of any of the following reportable diseases at the slaughterhouse should initiate action commensurate with the disease suspected as follows:

9.5.2 Anthrax

9.5.2.1 General

The presence of Anthrax in the slaughterhouse abattoir is cause for alarm because of the human health implications, the extreme resistance of the sporulated form of the etiological agent (Bacillus anthracis), and the virulence of the disease to livestock. Anthrax is an infectious febrile disease caused by Bacillus anthracis. In its most common form it is a septicaemia, characterized mainly by its rapidly fatal course. Remember that spores are formed within a few hours if the carcass is opened and Bacillus anthracis is exposed to air. If the carcass is not opened, the oxygen supply is insufficient for spore formation and the vegetative organisms are killed within a few days by the putrefactive process. Vegetative forms of the causative micro-organism are no more resistant than most other bacteria and are therefore much easier to destroy.

It is advised that the VIC consults with slaughter plant management, local public health authorities and the District Veterinarian in order to develop a contingency plan to deal with the potential occurrence of zoonotic diseases (e.g., Rabies, Anthrax etc.) at the facility.

9.5.2.2 Detection During Ante-mortem

In the event of a suspicion of Anthrax on ante-mortem inspection, the animal[s] must be held in isolation and the District Veterinarian notified immediately. The animal[s] will be held until released by an Animal Health veterinarian. In the event of a clinical diagnosis of Anthrax at ante-mortem inspection, the District Veterinarian will take or give direction for the collection of appropriate samples for confirmation in the CFIA's Centre of Expertise for Anthrax-Lethbridge Laboratory. A trace-back investigation will be initiated by the District Veterinarian, and pertinent information regarding movement(s), ownership, transportation, etc. may be requested.

The suspect carcass must not be eviscerated but condemned immediately and must be wrapped in a strong sheet of plastic, large enough to encase the whole carcass. The wrapped suspect carcass may be removed from the premises to a suitable place where it will be disposed of as directed in the Anthrax section of the MOP under the supervision of a CFIA inspector. Any movement of the suspect carcass from the slaughter establishment must meet TDG regulations and be performed by TDG certified person using appropriate documentation in consultation with the District Veterinarian. Again, precautionary measures must be taken to avoid distribution of the infective agent.

No animal in a lot in which Anthrax has been found on ante-mortem inspection shall be presented for slaughter until it has been determined by ante-mortem inspection and /or other ancillary tests that no other animal in the lot is infected. Each registered slaughtering establishment, because of size, method of operation, design of slaughtering facilities, speed of rail, etc., will have basic differences in operational procedures. Those control measures which apply in one plant may not apply in another, however, general principles of control must apply. Therefore, it will be necessary for each plant to have its own specific procedures if an animal suspected of having Anthrax is received at the plant and / or the carcass reaches the killing floor. These procedures may be reviewed and approved by the VIC in consultation with the District Veterinarian and the Area Animal Health Program specialist.

9.5.2.3 Detection During Slaughter

9.5.2.3.1 Ruminants (Cattle, Bison, Sheep, Goats) and Horses

  • In the event that Anthrax is suspected on the kill floor, all operations must cease. All parts of an affected carcass including the hide, horns, hooves, hair, viscera and contents, and blood must be condemned. All tissues from an infected carcass should, if they can be identified, be collected and placed in plastic bags. Blood may be handled through the usual blood cooking and drying process. The plastic bags containing the infected tissue shall be removed from the plant for appropriate disposal under the supervision of a CFIA inspector.
  • Any other carcass or parts that may have been contaminated with Anthrax material through possible contact with contaminated equipment must be condemned and disposed of under the strict supervision of an inspector.
  • That portion of the establishment that has been contaminated with Anthrax infected material, shall be cleaned and disinfected immediately with an approved disinfectant such as 5% solution of sodium hydroxide or commercial lye. A solution of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) containing approximately 0.5% (5,000 ppm) of available chlorine may be used. The solution shall be freshly prepared. Water at 82°C will destroy vegetative organisms. The VIC should consult the District Veterinarian for guidance and assistance as required.

9.5.2.3.2 Swine

The same procedures as for cattle should be followed. In addition the scalding tank, if contaminated, should be brought to a boil before being drained and disinfected following draining.

9.5.2.3.3 Pens and Areas of Possible Contamination

The pens and all possible areas of the stockyards and cattle cars or trucks that may have been contaminated shall be cleaned and disinfected under the CFIA supervision. The VIC should consult the District Veterinarian for guidance and assistance as required.

9.5.2.4 Human Contact

All persons who have accidentally handled Anthrax infected material shall immediately be subjected to a personal decontamination. A full shower should be taken, paying particular attention to head, arms and hands, washing thoroughly with liquid soap and hot water. It is necessary that these steps be taken immediately after discovery of exposure, before the vegetative Anthrax organisms have time to form spores. In the cleaning, a pick or other suitable appliance should be used to ensure the removal of all the contaminating material from under and around the fingernails. This process of cleaning is more effective when it is performed in repeated cycles of lathering and rinsing rather that in spending the same amount of time in scrubbing with a single lather. After the hands and arms have been thoroughly rinsed free of soap, they may be immersed for about one minute in a solution of organic iodine, Dettol, Lysol or other acceptable agents followed by a potable water rinse. A complete change of clothes should be made with the possibly contaminated garments being bagged for separate laundering. As a precautionary measure, all persons exposed to Anthrax infection should promptly report the development of any suspicious condition (sore or carbuncle) or respiratory symptoms, to a physician.

9.5.3 Bluetongue

Only non-US serotypes of Bluetongue remain reportable. US serotypes are immediately notifiable. The transmission of this disease requires insect vectors - biologically by Culicoides spp., and mechanically by the sheep ked (Melophagus ovinus). It is an infectious noncontagious disease, thus there is little that can be done at the slaughterhouse to prevent onward spread. Clinically affected carcasses should be condemned and exposed animals in the yards should be slaughtered in order to limit the contact of Culicoides or infected sheep keds to live animals. The virus is susceptible to a 3% solution of sodium hydroxide but special disinfection measures are not warranted.

9.5.4 Brucellosis

Brucellosis has been eradicated from Canada except for geographically restricted wildlife reservoirs in northern Canada. It is therefore unlikely that animals affected with brucellosis will be presented to an abattoir except for those animals licensed to slaughter as serological reactors or their contacts. Because of the serious consequences of human infection, precautions should be taken. Animals presented for slaughter as Reactors to a Brucellosis test must be documented and may require sampling using personal protective equipment. Preferred tissues for culture are those of the reticulo-endothelial system (i.e. head, mammary and genital lymph nodes and spleen), the late pregnant or early post parturient uterus (caruncle or dam portion of the placental cotyledon), and the udder. All samples should be cooled immediately after they are collected, and transported to the laboratory the same day. If same day delivery of chilled tissues is not possible, the tissues should be frozen and sent in a manner that ensures thawing will not occur.

9.5.5 Cysticercosis

The human health implication of bovine and porcine cysticercosis makes its detection in and elimination from meats essential. Ovine cysticercosis is not a human health risk. As with any reportable disease, you must report the occurrence.

9.5.5.1 Bovine and Ovine Cysticercosis

The larval form of the human tapeworm Taenia saginata is found in the connective tissue separating skeletal muscle fibre bundles and in the cardiac lymphatic spaces of the bovine. The cysts of Taenia ovis are similarly distributed in sheep and goats. Contrary to previously published reports, there are no sites of predilection for the cysts in a carcass, especially in lightly infected animals. Meat inspection procedures are designed, however, to find the cysts in areas in which they commonly occur and which can be examined with a minimum of carcass mutilation. For more information see Chapter 5, section on parasites.

9.5.5.2 Porcine Cysticercosis

Since auto-infestation of infested humans with cysts of T. solium in other than muscle tissues is possible, all swine carcasses with any evidence of Cysticercus cellulosae must be condemned. For more information see Chapter 5, section on parasites.

9.5.6 Pullorum Disease

Pullorum disease is an infectious poultry disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella pullorum. This disease occurs only rarely in Canada and mainly in chicks and turkey poults in small farm flocks. The etiologic agent, S. pullorum is susceptible to most disinfectants. While infected eggs are the primary vehicle for transmission, fomites may be involved and plant workers should disinfect equipment and rinse hands and arms in a disinfectant solution.

9.5.7 Fowl Typhoid

Fowl typhoid is an infectious poultry disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella gallinarum. Mechanical dissemination of the etiologic agent S. gallinarum is possible although egg transmission is the primary means of spread.

Therefore, a good disinfection routine for workers contacting infected birds is essential especially if they will be contacting live birds. Care should also be taken that wild birds do not have the opportunity to contact carcasses or offal from infected birds.

9.5.8 Rabies

A suspect rabies case will most likely present as a neurological case exhibiting abnormal behaviour which may include ataxia, vocalizing, aggression or unresponsiveness, etc. However, there are no specific pathognomonic signs specific to rabies, and other neurological causes must be considered, e.g., Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE). Quick action at the slaughterhouse is necessary to limit human contact with suspect rabid animals. Typically, animals presenting with neurological signs are condemned at ante-mortem.

Contact of yard personnel with rabies suspect must be avoided. The VIC should contact the District Veterinarian for consultation and assistance regarding the case. All contact animals should be detained and not slaughtered until directed by the District Veterinarian. Warning signs should be applied to the "held pen". Names of those individuals who may have contacted the suspicious animals should be collected. The VIC is responsible for the CFIA staff, where as plant management is responsible for plant staff. Although a low risk, any person having concern regarding any contact with a suspect rabid animal is advised to consult a physician.

It is advised that the VIC consults with slaughter plant management, local public health authorities and the District Veterinarian in order develop a contingency plan to deal with the potential occurrence of zoonotic diseases (e.g., Rabies, Anthrax etc.) at the facility.

Rabies must be considered in any animal (ruminant, porcine and equine) presenting with neurological signs. Further consultation/investigation with the Animal Health District veterinarian will help determine the risk of rabies. In ruminant species, when rabies and TSE testing are both indicated, rabies testing will be tested first and if negative for rabies, the sample will be then tested for TSEs. The District Veterinarian should be consulted for guidance and possible assistance in the submission of a ruminant sample to be tested for rabies, and TSE when indicated. The Rabies Manual of Procedures, Module 3 (Internal only) should also be consulted. Currently, all rabies suspect carcass must remain on site until negative test results are available. For ruminants see also the section on Prions in Chapter 5 of the MOP.

9.5.9 Trichinosis

In the unlikely event that trichina are uncovered through trichinoscopic or muscle digestion examination at the abattoir, the infested carcass shall be put under detention and condemned after laboratory confirmation of the infestation. The Program Specialist or Manager must be informed of the origin of trichina-infested hogs. Any further action regarding investigation and depopulation of the herd of origin is carried out by the Terrestrial Animal Health Division. Hogs presented for slaughter from an infested herd must be held and laboratory-tested for trichina infestation. See Chapter 5, section on parasites for further information on Trichinella.

9.5.10 Tuberculosis

See also Chapter 5, Annex D. It is not necessary to report suspected cases of porcine tuberculosis to the Terrestrial Animal Health Division unless carcass condemnation is involved, nor is it necessary to report tuberculosis in poultry. In cases where swine carcasses are condemned for granulomatous lymphadenitis, typical lesions shall be sent for examination.

However, our meat inspection system plays a very important role in the eradication program for bovine tuberculosis. All granulomas or grossly similar lesions, namely single or multiple lesions possibly consistent with granulomas (tuberculosis-like lesions), affecting any of the thoracic tissues, especially lymph nodes, or found in any tissue elsewhere in the bovine carcass (including single mesenteric lesions) must be forwarded for laboratory analysis. It is imperative that all forms of identification associated with carcasses bearing these lesions be recorded to facilitate herd tracebacks. Even if a number of herds or feedlots need to be investigated, the effort is considered to be important. Specimens should be submitted in the tuberculosis specimen submission kits provided to inspectors at beef slaughter plants.

Herd tracebacks will be conducted by Animal Health on all histopathology-positive lesions. The inspection staff submitting such lesions will be informed of the results of the investigation.

9.5.11 Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Scrapie, and Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

These three diseases are all classed as TSE. TSEs are believed to be caused by a conformational change to the normal protein particles called prions. Animals affected by TSEs experience progressive degeneration of the nervous system as the normal prion protein is transformed to the abnormal isoform. Thus the diseases are marked by a long incubation period, and are inevitably fatal.

Cattle with BSE may display changes in temperament, such as nervousness or aggression, abnormal posture, incoordination and difficulty in rising, decreased milk production, or loss of body weight despite continued appetite. Given the lengthy incubation period, BSE would most likely be found in older dairy cattle.

Scrapie usually manifests in sheep between two and five years of age. Most of the symptoms involve the nervous system. Early on, animals may display a change in their behaviour, becoming either aggressive or apprehensive. Owners often notice that sheep with scrapie seem disoriented and do not remain with the flock when it is herded. Later on, infected animals may start grinding their teeth, nibbling with their lips, or biting at their feet and limbs. Affected animals often seem itchy, and will scratch against objects and rub their wool off. They may also develop an unusual "bunny hopping" or high-stepping gait. Affected animals often lose weight and may appear in poor condition. Animals with scrapie can appear normal when standing quietly, but when stimulated or startled they may begin to tremble or appear to be having a seizure.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease of cervids, both wild and domestic. Affected animals are poor doers, lose weight and go down.

All animals showing central nervous system signs require careful veterinary examination. TSEs should be considered among the rule-outs and appropriate samples taken (the obex from the brain stem). Samples for BSE and CWD must be forwarded to the lab with clear indication that the carcass is being held pending test results (unless condemned for other reasons). All carcasses and edible parts of carcasses must be detained pending the receipt of CWD or BSE lab results. Sampling an edible carcass for scrapie does not necessitate the holding of a carcass. Samples for scrapie, even from edible carcasses, can be held frozen and sent to CFIA labs in periodic batches (e.g. monthly) to reduce associated courier costs.

Carcasses found positive for CWD or Scrapie may be buried, incinerated or disposed of as SRM. Carcasses sampled for BSE and found positive must be buried or incinerated. (For further information see Chapter 17, Annex D as well as the section on Prions in Chapter 5 of the MOP).

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