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Post-mortem examination (PME) should be performed on fresh carcases as decomposition is fast in warm climates. PME performed on partially decomposed animals can lead to false conclusions as many organs take an abnormal aspects a few hours after death, after 24 hours outside PME is no longer informative. When possible animals should be sacrificed to perform PME and to collect fresh post-mortem samples. This is most applicable for small animal production such as poultry.

All organs and tissues, including external body, should be examined in a systematic way (position color, size, weight, shape, consistency, content, smell, extension of lesions, aspect of section). The findings should be recorded so as to give the reader a clear mental picture of the lesions seen. A example of PME reporting form can be downloaded from here and adapted to convenient use.  

When performing a post-mortem, protective clothing should be worn according to biohazard level of suspected disease (e.g. Nipah virus) and when finished attention paid to disposal of the carcase, appropriate disinfection of self and equipment, to avoid further spread of the disease.

A full range of diagnostic specimens should be collected (see individual disease requirements and tissue collection). In addition a range of samples for other diseases (both endemic and exotic) that could be considered in the differential diagnosis should be collected.

Do not forget that PME is a practical examination that requires training and experience and that it is easy to miss lesions if this of examination is irregularly practiced, techniques are described under the PME guideline for mammals.