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Gastroenteritis at a University in Texas (CB3076)

	Gastroenteritis montage

After receiving a call from two university students, health department investigators learn that many more students are sick with vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Do the cases represent an outbreak; and, if so — what is the source?
  • How should the problem be investigated?
  • What can be done to stop it?

Work through this case study and help health department investigators find the answers to these questions and more.

Target Audience

Available for Download

  • Complete Package (48 MB)
    System Requirements:

    To undertake the case study, you will need the following computer hardware and software:

    • Microsoft® Windows® 95, Windows® 98, Windows® NT® 4.0 with service pack 3 or higher, or Windows® 2000
    • Intel® Pentium® III Processor or equivalent
    • Available hard disk space:
      • 54MB, if installing the case study from the CD or downloading the Complete Package from the Internet.
      • 22 MB, if downloading the Alternative Package from the Internet.
    • 16 MB of memory
    • 4x speed (NOTE: Only needed with CD format of program)
    • Monitor resolution of 800 x 600 with 16-bit color
    • Display font size set to "Small Fonts"
    • Mouse
  • Alternative Package (18 MB)

    Minimum files needed to run case study program.

Public health practitioners with knowledge of basic epidemiologic and public health concepts including public health nurses, epidemiologists, infectious disease investigators, environmental health specialists, sanitarians, and MPH students.

Learning Objectives

After completing this case study, the student should be able to:

  • Describe the appropriate response to a potential foodborne illness complaint.
  • List disease categories to include in the differential diagnosis of an acute gastrointestinal illness, given clinical information.
  • List three important considerations when collecting stool specimens from patients.
  • Outline a hypothesis on the source of an outbreak, given information on the disease, the descriptive epidemiology of cases, and results of hypothesis-generating interviews.
  • Select an epidemiologic study type to investigate the source of an outbreak, given circumstances around the outbreak.
  • Interpret epidemiologic study findings.
  • Identify information to include in an outbreak investigation report.
  • Describe the epidemiology e.g., occurrence, transmission, and control of norovirus.


Knowledge of basic public health and epidemiologic concepts (including descriptive epidemiology, study design, and data analysis)






2 - 3 hours

Developed By

This product stems from a collaboration within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with individuals from the:

  • National Center for Infectious Diseases (Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases/Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases/Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch, and Food Safety Office)
  • Office of Workforce and Career Development (Division of Training and Curriculum Services)

The development team included Jeanette K. Stehr-Green, MD and Nancy Gathany, MEd with Erick Emde, MM.

Original Investigation Team

The following individuals investigated the original outbreak of gastroenteritis in Texas: Nicholas A. Daniels, David A. Bergmire-Sweat, Kellogg J. Schwab, Kate A. Hendricks, Sudha Reddy, Steven M. Rowe, Rebecca L. Fankhauser, Stephan S. Monroe, Robert L. Atmar, Roger I. Glass, Paul S. Mead, Ree A. Calmes-Slovin, Dana Cotton, Charlie Horton, Sandra G. Ford, and Pam Patterson.