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A Focused Ethnographic Study of Alberta Cattle Veterinarians’ Decision Making about Diagnostic Laboratory Submissions and Perceptions of Surveillance Programs
The animal and public health communities need to address the challenge posed by zoonotic emerging infectious diseases. To minimize the impacts of future events, animal disease surveillance will need to enable prompt event detection and response. Diagnostic laboratory-based surveillance systems targeting domestic animals depend in large part on private veterinarians to submit samples from cases to a laboratory. In contexts where pre-diagnostic laboratory surveillance systems have been implemented, this group of veterinarians is often asked to input data. This scenario holds true in Alberta where private cattle veterinarians have been asked to participate in the Alberta Veterinary Surveillance Network-Veterinary Practice Surveillance, a platform to which pre-diagnostic disease and non-disease case data are submitted. Consequently, understanding the factors that influence these veterinarians to submit cases to a laboratory and the complex of factors that affect their participation in surveillance programs is foundational to interpreting disease patterns reported by laboratories and engaging veterinarians in surveillance. A focused ethnographic study was conducted with ten cattle veterinarians in Alberta. Individual in-depth interviews with participants were recorded and transcribed to enable thematic analysis. Laboratory submissions were biased toward outbreaks of unknown cause, cases with unusual mortality rates, and issues with potential herd-level implications. Decreasing cattle value and government support for laboratory testing have contributed to fewer submissions over time. Participants were willing participants in surveillance, though government support and collaboration were necessary. Changes in the beef industry and veterinary profession, as well as cattle producers themselves, present both challenges and opportunities in surveillance.
A Focused Ethnographic Study of Sri Lankan Government Field Veterinarians’ Decision Making about Diagnostic Laboratory Submissions and Perceptions of Surveillance
The global public health community is facing the challenge of emerging infectious diseases. Historically, the majority of these diseases have arisen from animal populations at lower latitudes where many nations experience marked resource constraints. In order to minimize the impact of future events, surveillance of animal populations will need to enable prompt event detection and response. Many surveillance systems targeting animals rely on veterinarians to submit cases to a diagnostic laboratory or input clinical case data. Therefore understanding veterinarians’ decision-making process that guides laboratory case submission and their perceptions of infectious disease surveillance is foundational to interpreting disease patterns reported by laboratories and engaging veterinarians in surveillance initiatives. A focused ethnographic study was conducted with twelve field veterinary surgeons that participated in a mobile phone-based surveillance pilot project in Sri Lanka. Each participant agreed to an individual in-depth interview that was recorded and later transcribed to enable thematic analysis of the interview content. Results found that field veterinarians in Sri Lanka infrequently submit cases to laboratories – so infrequently that common case selection principles could not be described. Field veterinarians in Sri Lanka have a diagnostic process that operates independently of laboratories. Participants indicated a willingness to take part in surveillance initiatives, though they highlighted a need for incentives that satisfy a range of motivations that vary among field veterinarians. This study has implications for the future of animal health surveillance, including interpretation of disease patterns reported, system design and implementation, and engagement of data providers.
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