AVMA Collections: Disaster preparedness and response

Single-topic compilations of the information shaping our profession


June 2008

In this collection:
Summary:  Text | Audio 

Disaster response

The veterinarian's role in preparedness and response

Biosecurity and bioterrorism preparedness

Search-and-rescue dogs

Preparedness and response policy


Disaster response

A method for decontamination of animals involved in floodwater disasters Highlights:
•   Superficial contaminants key in water disasters
•   3 sequential stations used for decontamination
•   Protocol can be applied to small or large animals
Efficacy hard to gauge; observation important
Stjepan Soric, Michael P. Belanger, Carin Wittnich

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2008;232:364-370. February 1, 2008.


Equine rescue and response activities in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Highlights:
•   500 horses rescued; 500 volunteers participated
•   Problems caused by unauthorized rescuers
•   Permanent identification invaluable in reuniting
Train volunteers in Incident Command System
Rebecca S. McConnico, Dennis D. French, Bonnie Clark, Ky E. Mortensen, Martha Littlefield, Rustin M. Moore

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;231:384-392. August 1, 2007.


Epidemiologic features of pet evacuation failure in a rapid-onset disaster Highlights:
•   40% dogs, 75% cats not evacuated with owners
•   Risk factors included lower standard of care
•   Many owners believed pets not at risk
Cat carriers key to cat and human evacuations
Sebastian E. Heath, Susan K. Voeks, Larry T. Glickman

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:1898-1904. June 15, 2001.


Risk factors for pet evacuation failure after a slow-onset disaster Highlights:
•   Half of households failed to evacuate all pets
•   Dogs living outdoors at greater risk
•   Lack of cat carriers also linked to failure
Advance warning encourages owner self-reliance
Sebastian E. Heath, Alan M. Beck, Philip H. Kass, Larry T. Glickman

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:1905-1910. June 15, 2001.


Seroprevalence of Dirofilaria immitis, feline leukemia virus, and feline immunodeficiency virus infection among dogs and cats exported from the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricane disaster area Highlights:
•   Lack of veterinary care, abandonment linked
•   Plausible that rescued pets have more disease
•   Found prevalance same as in general population
Relocating to low prevalence areas a concern
Julie K. Levy, Charlotte H. Edinboro, Carmen-Susan Glotfelty, Patricia A. Dingman, Aundria L. West, Kathy D. Kirkland-Cady
J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;231:218-225. July 15, 2007.
Disaster relief management of companion animals affected by the floods of Hurricane Floyd Highlights:
•   450 animals affected, 750 volunteers involved
•   Field hospital operational within 72 hours
•   Medical supplies, food, transportation donated
Rapid sourcing of supplies, personnel was key
Lola C. Hudson, Helen M. Berschneider, Kelli K. Ferris, Sally L. Vivrette
J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:354-359. February 1, 2001.

The veterinarian's role in preparedness and response



The veterinary profession's duty of care in response to disasters and food animal emergencies Highlights:
•   Veterinary role in national disasters unclear
•   Incident Command System is national standard
•   National policy needed for veterinary involvement
Consider ICS training as CE for all veterinarians
Kenneth E. Nusbaum, Bernard E. Rollin, James S. Wohl
J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;231:200-202. July 15, 2007.
Psychologic first aid and veterinarians in rural communities undergoing livestock depopulation Highlights:
•   Depopulation likely in severe disease outbreak
•   Many stressors identified in 2001 FMD epidemic
•   Psychologic first aid includes reflective listening
Rural veterinarians can lead during outbreaks
Kenneth E. Nusbaum, James G. W. Wenzel, George S. Everly Jr
J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;231:692-694. September 1, 2007.
Veterinary accreditation and some new imperatives for national preparedness Highlights:
•   Accredited veterinarians aid federal government
•   Presidential Directives outline veterinary roles
•   Stay informed of reportable diseases, diagnostics
Get to know the Incident Command System
James G. W. Wenzel, James C. Wright
J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;230:1309-1312. May 1, 2007.
Public health roles for small animal practitioners Highlights:
•   Shortage of veterinarians in public health growing
•   SA practioners could be regulatory surge capacity
•   Small animals may serve as sentinels for disease
Much untapped potential in SA practitioners
James S. Wohl, Kenneth E. Nusbaum

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;230:494-500. February 15, 2007.

The role of the equine practitioner in disasters Highlights:
•   Educating clients in preparedness is top role
•   Forming local disaster response plans also key
•   Veterinarian services in rescue may be unique
Preparedness saves more lives than response
John E. Madigan, Jacqui Whittemore
J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:1238-1239. April 15, 2000.

Biosecurity and bioterrorism preparedness 



Biological terrorism against animals and humans: a brief review and primer for action Highlights:
•   Veterinarians are key in disease surveillance
•   Agricultural bioterrorism a serious threat
•   Production in livestock should be monitored
CE on foreign animal diseases needed
Donald L. Noah, Harvey R. Crowder

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;221:40-43. July 1, 2002.


The ABCs of bioterrorism for veterinarians, focusing on Category A agents Highlights:
•   Category A agents are most critical to public health
•   Clinical signs, zoonotic potential discussed
•   Veterinarians may be first to detect an outbreak
Be aware of the most likely bioterrorism agents
Radford G. Davis

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:1084-1095. April 1, 2004.

The ABCs of bioterrorism for veterinarians, focusing on Category B and C agents Highlights:
•   B, C agents less likely to cause widespread harm
•   Potential for massive economic disruption, deaths
•   Learn to recognize intentional release of an agent
Prompt disease identification, reporting are key
Radford G. Davis
J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:1096-1104. April 1, 2004.
Awareness-level information for veterinarians on weapons of mass destruction and preservation of evidence Highlights:
•   Important to know agents of mass destruction
•   Agents: Chemical, biological, nuclear, explosive
•   Postdisaster environment poses additional risks
Be prepared to serve as responder; stay informed
James G. W. Wenzel

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;230:1816-1820. June 15, 2007.


Awareness-level information for veterinarians on control zones, personal protective equipment, and decontamination Highlights:
•   Important to understand emergency response
•   3 control zones for all incidents: Hot, warm, cold
•   Decontamination plan should address species
Get to know Incident Command System
James G. W. Wenzel

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;231:48-51. July 1, 2007.


Veterinary expertise in biosecurity and biological risk assessment Highlights:
•   Biosecurity practiced every day by veterinarians
•   Many do not recognize biosecurity skills as such
•   Disaster reponse requires advance preparation
Limiting spread of disease before it is seen is key
James G. W. Wenzel, Kenneth E. Nusbaum

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;230:1476-1480. May 15, 2007.


Description of an epidemic simulation model for use in evaluating strategies to control an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease Highlights:
•   FMD model is a tool for biosecurity planning
•   Authors evaluated potential eradication strategies
•   Control models included slaughter, vaccination
Simulation useful when information is incomplete
Thomas W. Bates, Mark C. Thurmond, Tim E. Carpenter
Am J Vet Res 2003;64:195-204. February 2003.


Search-and-rescue dogs 




Search-and-rescue dogs: an overview for veterinarians Highlights:
•   Search drive, temperament, trainability are key
•   Dogs turned in to shelters may be ideal for SAR
•   Concern: Treatments that affect sense of smell
Be able to screen dogs for work-limiting problems
Katherine E. Jones, Karen Dashfield, Amanda B. Downend, Cynthia M. Otto

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:854-860. September 15, 2004.


General toxicologic hazards and risks for search-and-rescue dogs responding to urban disasters Highlights:
•   Assume urban disaster sites highly contaminated
•   Toxins may be solids, liquids, particulates, gases
•   SAR dogs at high risk from respiratory toxicants
Recognizing route of exposure is key to treatment
Sharon M. Gwaltney-Brant, Lisa A. Murphy, Tina A. Wismer, Jay C. Albretsen

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:292-295. February 1, 2003.


Toxicologic agents of concern for search-and-rescue dogs responding to urban disasters Highlights:
•   Specific common toxins are discussed
•   Hydrocarbons, PCBs, metals head the list
•   Routes of exposure, outcomes detailed
Knowledge of sequelae will aid long-term care
Lisa A. Murphy, Sharon M. Gwaltney-Brant, Jay C. Albretsen, Tina A. Wismer

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:296-304. February 1, 2003.


Management and prevention of toxicoses in search-and-rescue dogs responding to urban disasters Highlights:
•   Prompt, appropriate treatment vital
•   Priority is "treat the patient, not the poison"
•   Dermal absorption important in urban SAR dogs
Don't wait to confirm toxin before starting treatment
Tina A. Wismer, Lisa A. Murphy, Sharon M. Gwaltney-Brant, Jay C. Albretsen

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:305-310. February 1, 2003.


Medical and behavioral surveillance of dogs deployed to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon from October 2001 to June 2002 Highlights:
•   Compared health of deployed dogs to controls
•   Serum results suggested antigen, toxin exposure
•   Blood values of both groups within normal limits
No adverse affects within 1 year of deployment
Cynthia M. Otto, Amanda B. Downend, James A. Serpell, Lisa S. Ziemer, H. Mark Saunders

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:861-867. September 15, 2004.


Deployment morbidity among search-and-rescue dogs used after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks Highlights:
•   65 of 96 dogs studied had deployment morbidity
•   GI upset, fatigue, dehydration among complaints
•   6-fold higher morbidity in WTC dogs vs Pentagon
Injury, illness affected most dogs, but all minor
Kimberly A. Slensky, Kenneth J. Drobatz, Amanda B. Downend, Cynthia M. Otto

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:868-873. September 15, 2004.


Assessment of acute injuries, exposure to environmental toxins, and five-year health surveillance of New York Police Department working dogs following the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center terrorist attack Highlights:
•   17 of 27 dogs had health disorders in 1st week
•   No evidence of Bacillum anthracis exposure
•   Mild biochemical abnormalities were found
Only mild health problems during 5-year follow-up
Philip R. Fox, Birgit Puschner, Joseph G. Ebel

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2008;233:48-59. July 1, 2008.


The modern working dog—a call for interdisciplinary collaboration Highlights:
•   Guide dog schools are models for collaboration
•   10 professions in National Academies of Practice
•   Professions unite to maintain guide dog teams
Collaboration promising for human-animal bond
Patricia N. Olson

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;221:352-355. August 1, 2002.


Preparedness and response policy 

Organizational aspects of disaster preparedness and response Highlights:
•   Knowledge of Incident Command System is vital
•   ICS is cornerstone of organized disaster response
•   National Response Plan: Use local plans first
Plan in advance for successful role in ICS
James G. W. Wenzel

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;230:1634-1637. June 1, 2007.


Veterinary legal issues: 2006 in review Highlights:
•   Veterinary law has been expanding for years
•   Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina spurred changes
•   State laws now address animal care in disasters
PETS Act: Evacuation plans must include pets
Elizabeth L. Settles, Sarah L. Babcock

J Am Vet Med Assoc 2007;230:350-352. February 1, 2007.


Report of the 2006 National Animal Disaster Summit Highlights:
•   2005 hurricane responders met at AVMA summit
•   Roadblocks to response efforts were identified
•   Recommendations developed for improvement
Top problem was lack of coordination, control
Bonnie V. Beaver, Robert Gros, E. Murl Bailey, Cindy S. Lovern
J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006;229:943-948. September 15, 2006.