Unusual animal mortalities, although rare, have been observed in Antarctic wildlife. It is possible that diseases introduced or spread by humans could cause such unusual deaths.
The Australian Antarctic Division has developed an Unusual Animal Mortality Response Plan PDF. This plan provides guidance on what to do if sick or dead animals are discovered in unusually high numbers, or with signs of disease.
Unusual Animal Mortality Response kits are kept at each station and ship. They are also taken on major field expeditions.
The kits contain the equipment needed to record an event, undertake a post-mortem examination and prepare samples for transport and subsequent analysis. They include instructions on procedures and safety precautions to reduce the chance of people spreading an infectious agent, or acquiring an infection themselves.
The kits contain disposable rubber gloves, over-shoes, overalls, surgical masks and other items that help prevent the spread of disease to other locations.