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Foodborne Disease Outbreak Investigation and Surveillance Tools

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Outbreak investigations require a lot of time and energy to find out what is making people sick. Public health officials have many tools available to them to help investigate and solve foodborne and other enteric (gastrointestinal) disease outbreaks. The information found on this page represents some of these important tools.

National Hypothesis Generating Questionnaire:

  1. What is the National Hypothesis Generating Questionnaire?

    The National Hypothesis Generating Questionnaire is a set of questions used by public health officials to interview ill people in the early stages of a multistate foodborne or enteric (gastrointestinal) disease outbreak investigation.

  2. Why is it used?

    The questionnaire collects a standard set of information about food and other exposures for all outbreak cases identified during a multistate investigation. By collecting the same information across many different areas, data analysis is more efficient. Also, the time it takes to pinpoint the source of an outbreak can be reduced.

  3. What happens to the data?

    De-identified data (data with all personal identifiers removed) collected by public health officials are usually combined and analyzed by CDC and the results are shared with federal, state, and local public health partners, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Visit the Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response website for a downloadable PDF of the National Hypothesis Generating Questionnaire [PDF - 11 pages].

Additional Standard Questionnaires:

Additional Tools

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