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Animal disease investigations : Comparison of methods for information collection and identification of attributes for information management systems



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In an infectious animal disease outbreak, effective management of the event requires timely and accurate information collection, processing, storage and distribution. This thesis focuses on the tools to assist information collection and management. The first study describes the comparison of questionnaire methodology for the information collection in the initial epidemiologic investigation of a Canadian federally reportable disease. The second study defines attributes of an animal disease outbreak information management system (IMS). The studies were performed within a one-year period (July 2013-July 2014). The first study performed two comparisons to determine differences in the information quality (completeness and accuracy) between differing questionnaire methodology and modes of completion (hard copy and electronic). The study was conducted with 24 Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspectors and veterinarians using a fictitious Canadian reportable disease scenario. The first comparison used a hard copy of a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) questionnaire designed to be applicable (or generic) for all highly infectious reportable disease investigations with a supplementary disease specific section compared to an electronic disease specific reportable disease questionnaire. There was no significant difference in the information quality (N = 22; P = 0.09). The mean difference in completeness and accuracy scores was 3.5% (95% CI -0.6, 7.6). The second comparison focused on the hard copy disease questionnaire and assessed differences in information quality between using only the generic sections of the questionnaire compared to the supplementation of a disease specific section. A difference in information quality was determined (N = 24; P < 0.0001). The mean completeness and accuracy score for the generic only sections was 50.2% (95% CI 43.6, 57.2) compared to 80.2% (95% CI 76.2, 84.5) with the inclusion of the disease-specific section. The greatest difference in information quality occurred in the tracing specific information categories (P < 0.0001) with a mean difference of completeness and accuracy scores of 67.7% (95% CI 52.0, 83.4) for the trace-in (exposure history) category and 38.3% (95% CI 28.3, 48.3) for the trace-out (potential spread of disease) category. The absence of disease-specific questions were determined to be the primary factor in the difference in information quality. The second study determined a comprehensive list of user-defined attributes of an animal disease outbreak IMS and further identified the most important (key) attributes. A list of 34 attributes and associated definitions were determined through a series of focus group sessions and two surveys of Canadian animal health stakeholders. The animal health stakeholders included federal and provincial governments, veterinary academia and animal production industry representatives. The key attributes of an animal disease outbreak IMS identified were: ‘user friendly’, ‘effectiveness’, ‘accessibility’, ‘data accuracy’, ‘reliability’ and ‘timeliness’. ‘User friendly’ received the highest frequency of ranking as the most important attribute, followed by ‘effectiveness’. Information management was identified as the main purpose of an animal disease outbreak IMS with a median rating of 10 (rating scale of 0-10 with 10 = strongly agree). The occurrence of a federally reportable disease or a large-scale animal disease outbreak can have a great impact on the animal agriculture sector, regulatory government agencies and the economy. Information collection and management are essential to assist with the epidemiologic investigation and disease control measures. The study provided a novel opportunity to study information management for an animal disease outbreak from a Canadian perspective. The knowledge obtained will add value to the future development of tools and systems designed for information collection and management involving an animal disease outbreak.



animal disease outbreak, investigation, information management systems, information management



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Large Animal Clinical Sciences


Large Animal Clinical Sciences


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