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Introduction to Outbreak Investigation

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Date Developed: Unknown. Source: Northwest Center for Public Health Practice. Presenter(s): Jeff Duchin, MD. Type: Narrated Slide Presentation. Level: Introductory. Length: 60 minutes.


This module provides a brief overview of outbreak investigation. After defining common terms, the module walks through common steps in outbreak investigations: verify accuracy of disease reports, determine existence of outbreak, establish a case definition, identify additional cases, conduct descriptive epidemiology, generate/test hypotheses, monitor the course of the outbreak, conduct environmental and lab investigation, implement disease control measures, and communicate findings. For each step, the course describes relevant methods and considerations. The module concluded with information about types of outbreak investigators, methods of detecting outbreaks, and provides tips for running a successful outbreak investigation. Examples, sort exercises, and a final assessment are used to reinforce learning.

Learning Objectives

• Recognize indicators of a potential disease outbreak.

• Describe the steps in conducting an outbreak investigation.

• Identify key communication considerations during outbreak investigations.

• Understand public health actions that may result from outbreak investigations.

Special Instructions

Registration is required. Look to the right of the screen and click on "Register in PHLearnLink".

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UE8MC25742; MCH Navigator for $225,000/year. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.