Intensive course - Tuesday

Workshop "intensive course" opened for juniors.

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Other courses will be offered soon.


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Investigating outbreaks : an introduction to the detective work of epidemiologists


On February 12th 2018, the surveillance officer of the Public Health Department in Québec (Canada), noticed that the number of reported legionella cases was higher than usual for the week. Tuesday April 25th  2017, the emergency team of the Public Health Institute of Liberia received a call from the district of S. reporting that 8 deaths and 13 cases of an unknown disease occurred during the day and all patients had participated to a funeral ceremony. In both situations, you suspect that something is going wrong. How do you describe the event and the risk for the population? Is the number of cases in either of these situations higher than usual? What should be used to estimate the "usual pattern”?. If it is higher than usual, should the health department staff consider the situation a cluster, an outbreak? What information do you need and how to get it? How do you conduct such an investigation? How do you use the results of your investigation to provide recommendations to control the outbreak? These and related questions will be addressed in this course.


  • On completion of this course you should be able to:
  • Explain the current and coming up threats that epidemics represent for our societies
  • Define cluster and outbreak
  • List the reasons that health agencies investigate outbreaks
  • Describe the steps of an outbreak investigation
    Identify available training resources in field investigation and main references to consult on this topic.


Based on recent investigations from different settings of various countries, either from domestic or international context, this course gives an overview of the basic steps to conduct field investigations. It includes short presentations and small group discussions and exercises.


The course is designed for health professionals from the public or private sectors who are interested by disease surveillance or investigation, as well as students and researchers in epidemiology or in related fields.


There are no pre-requisite courses or training for this course. However, a basic knowledge of the practices of public health and biostatistics is recommended.


The duration of the course is 3 ½ hours.


  • Louise Alain, MSc. Epidemiologist, Regional Public Health Center, Québec (Canada) and EPITER member
  • Anne Perrocheau, MD, MScPH. Medical Epidemiologist. Emergency Department, World Health Organisation, Geneva, Swiss. EPITER member.