Fundamentals of outbreak response

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The objective of this course is to strengthen participant basic knowledge and skills related to the investigation of communicable disease outbreaks affecting their country. This course will include 4 topics related to descriptive epidemiology, the steps taken in an outbreak investigation, the use of analytical epidemiology efforts for use in outbreak investigations, and an overview of operational aspects of such an investigation. Participants will gain knowledge and skills concerning how outbreak investigations are approached
methodologically in public health.

Course Objectives 

  • Appreciate the general conduct of an outbreak investigation 
  • Understand why descriptive epidemiology is important in outbreak investigations 
  • Identify the primary ways person, place and time are used to characterize an outbreak
  • Understand how to create an epidemic curve and the three types of patterns observed in epidemic curves 
  • Apply the special situation observed in point source epidemic curves to identify most likely period of exposure 
  • Identify the main types of maps used in outbreak investigations • Understand the general steps taken in an outbreak investigations 
  • Calculate and evaluate incidence rates for purposes in outbreak investigations Destination Medicine Global Health Care Course introduction 
  • Calculate and interpret attack rates
  • Understand why analytic epidemiology is important in outbreak investigations
  • Understand the basic design of cohort, case-control and cross sectional studies 
  • Calculate and interpret risk ratios and odds ratios 
  • Understand the basic principles of confidence intervals, p-values, confounding and effect modification 
  • Understand the composition of an outbreak investigation team 
  • Understand primary considerations of communication strategies in an outbreak investigation 
  • Understand the basic design of a report describing an outbreak investigation

About the Instructor

James L. Fisher, Ph.D

Dr. Fisher received his doctorate in Preventive Medicine (Epidemiology) from The Ohio State University in 1999.  Since 2001, he has worked as a Research Scientist at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University.  Dr. Fisher has worked on a variety of projects. In collaboration with colleagues at the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Fisher also works with data from the central cancer registry for the State of Ohio – the Ohio Cancer Incidence Surveillance System (OCISS). This work primarily involves examining the magnitude of cancer incidence in Ohio and the US, identifying groups and areas with higher cancer incidence rates and deleterious cancer-related outcomes.  This work extends to developing both Ohio- and US-based research involving the use of cancer surveillance to identify cancer-related disparities.  In addition, Dr. Fisher has taught courses concerning epidemiology as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the College of Public Health.  These courses include Outbreak Investigations.