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Science Olympiad » Disease Detectives Event
Getting Ready to Compete


Who are the real-life disease detectives, and what scientific skills and knowledge are needed to work through the Disease Detectives exercise?

Disease detectives include epidemiologists, laboratory scientists, statisticians, physicians and other health care providers, and public health professionals whose interests include preventing disease and promoting health. Students participating in the event will need a basic understanding of epidemiology, which is the scientific method of problem solving used by public health practitioners to study diseases and other health conditions and to investigate outbreaks. See also Careers in Epidemiology.

How will the Disease Detectives event work in the Science Olympiad?

Students will be given background on a real disease outbreak or other public health problem and will use the problem-solving methods of epidemiology to work through the problem, examine the cause, and recommend solutions, just as disease detectives do. The exercises used in the Science Olympiad event will be based on information contained in reports published about outbreaks and other problems in publications such as medical journals, public health epidemiology bulletins, and newspaper and magazine accounts.

Where can I find more information about diseases and disease outbreaks?

Suggested supplemental reading includes The Medical Detectives, by Berton Roueche and The Cobra Event, by Richard Preston. Both of these books are written  for the general audience and are entertaining as well as informative. See More Resources for a list of web   sites, books, and journal article.

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This page last reviewed August 27, 2004

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