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2.4 Collecting Information

A disease investigation is an exercise in collecting information, much of which is historical.

To collect a history accurately and in detail requires the input of people who manage or work with the animals and is likely to draw on recall as well as written records. A few tips on how to do this follow.

  • Use a checklist to make sure you cover a wide range of areas in the information gathering process.
  • When collecting the history, avoid interrupting the person who is relating their observations to you. A story told in their own words without interruption will probably be more accurate and complete.
  • Separate observations from interpretations but don't discard their interpretations.
  • The ship's mess is a good place to interview people. You can sit down, and have something to eat and drink. Calendars, diaries, logs, maps, load plans, inventories, receipts and other potentially important records are often readily accessible from the mess.
  • Try to gather the stockpersons/crew/managers together in order to tap into the collective memory. It is very important to include in the history collection the people who observe the animals most closely.
  • File your notes in a secure place. Initial notes often form a valuable, easily visualised and understood record for review at a later date or to inform other investigators that follow you.