Recording and submitting specimen history data

Techniques and Methods 15-C3
Edited by: J. Christian FransonMilton FriendSamantha E. J. Gibbs, and Margaret A. Wild



In wildlife disease investigations, determining the history or background of a problem is the first significant step toward establishing a diagnosis and aiding agencies with management considerations. The diagnostic process and overall investigation is often greatly expedited by a chronological record accompanying specimens submitted for laboratory evaluation. Knowing where and when the outbreak is taking place, what the environmental conditions and species involved are, and clinical signs in sick animals, along with necropsy findings and diagnostic test results are important for understanding the natural history or epizootiology of disease outbreaks. It becomes increasingly difficult to retrospectively obtain all of the pertinent history as time passes. The most helpful information is that which is obtained at the time of the die-off event by perceptive field biologists and other observers. Significant events preceding morbidity and/or mortality also provide valuable information on which to base corrective actions. In this chapter, readers will find information regarding what type of information should be recorded, how it should be recorded and why it is relevant to a disease investigation. A thoughtful approach in providing as much information as possible surrounding the situation including about host species and the biotic and abiotic environment, greatly aids in determining the most likely causative agent(s).

Suggested Citation

Bodenstein, B.L., 2016, Recording and submitting specimen history data, in Franson, J.C., Friend, M., Gibbs, S.E.J., and Wild, M.A., eds., Field manual of wildlife diseases: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 15, chap. C3, 7 p.,

ISSN: 2328-7055 (online)

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • What Information Should Be Collected
  • Mortality Event Location Information 
  • Environmental Factors
  • Date Specimens Collected
  • Submitter
  • Collector
  • Method of Collection
  • Specimen Preservation
  • Estimating Disease Onset 
  • Species Affected
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Number Sick/Number Dead
  • Clinical Signs
  • Population at Risk 
  • Population Movement  
  • Specific Features of Problem Areas
  • Photographs, Videos, and Maps
  • Followup to Initial Investigation
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Supplementary Reading
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Recording and submitting specimen history data
Series title Techniques and Methods
Series number 15-C3
DOI 10.3133/tm15C3
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) National Wildlife Health Center
Description iii, 7 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Section C: Techniques in disease surveillance and investigation in Book 15: Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases
Public Comments This report in Chapter 3 of Section C: Techniques in disease surveillance and investigation in Book 15: Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details