Chapter 3: How PODD Works

updated on 01 June 2022
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To learn how the PODD project is structured and how the PODD system works to detect and respond to outbreaks.


PODD is a mobile application used by farmers, livestock owners, and community volunteers to report sick animals and other abnormal health events. The application sends these reports to local veterinarians and health officials who monitor suspicious health signals occurring in their communities via a PODD Dashboard. Once the system analyzes the reported data, PODD activates appropriate responses to contain an outbreak.


PODD surveillance begins with an abnormal health event in the community, such as a cluster of sick chickens or dead cattle. 

A trained PODD Volunteer or another community member reports the event by using the PODD app to take a photo of the sick animal, answer a few relevant case questions, adding observation notes before submitting the report to the PODD system. 

The reporter will be asked whether the animal is exhibiting any visible symptoms, how many animals are affected, and whether other animals or farms have come into contact with the sick animal. 

The PODD report is location-tagged so the relevant investigators can respond directly to the problem areas if an outbreak is confirmed.

Preliminary Response

Two actions are immediately triggered by the PODD system when a report is received. 

  1. Recommended Actions: The Volunteer who reported the sick animal receives automated instructions on how to disinfect the surrounding areas and quarantine the animal away from the rest of the livestock. This preliminary guidance is crucial for disease containment measures until the government response team arrives.
  2. Automated Alerts: Specific local health officials are immediately notified when a case is reported. If the case is among a cluster of similar abnormal health events in neighboring areas, during a similar time period, then Government officers are alerted including the Disease Control, Public Health, and Livestock Development officers responsible for the affected areas.

Partner Collaboration

When the PODD team receives notifications of a suspected outbreak, all responsible parties must work together to respond quickly and effectively. 

The PODD system enables Government officials to communicate directly with Village officials and the initial reporter. Open communication between all affected parties is important because the ability to control the outbreak depends on the response time to the suspected case. 

If the PODD system signals that there are a series of related cases of a possible widespread outbreak, or a Government officer using PODD decides the case is serious enough for investigation, then a local response team is dispatched to investigate the situation. 

The response team consists of all key stakeholders (Disease Control, Public Health, Veterinarian) working together to assess the situation and take appropriate control actions. 

Follow-up and Monitoring

The response team will collect blood samples from affected animals for laboratory testing. 

Village Coordinators are responsible for regularly checking on the outbreak site and reporting any further disease spread to the PODD system. Government officials may direct further response and subsequent investigations based on the results of the laboratory testing. 

All actions taken by responsible parties are reported to the PODD system for historical tracking of case response times and resolutions. 

Next we will learn more about how to prepare for an investigation and to prepare for a potential outbreak.

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