Tennessee Detectives Investigate an Outbreak of Cryptosporidium
In the summer of 2012, public health officials in Tennessee were notified that a group of volunteers were sick with gastroenteritis. The volunteers were from multiple states and had traveled to Tennessee to work on a farm. Tennessee officials collaborated with several other states to figure out what caused the illness. They used an online survey to collect information, but after a couple days only a few volunteers had responded.
FoodCORE interviewers were determined to help collect more information and called about 60 volunteers who did not answer the online survey. At the same time, laboratorians tested samples from the sick people, which came back positive for a parasite called Cryptosporidium.
FoodCORE’s direct outreach to the remaining volunteers provided the critical information needed to help solve the outbreak. Using these responses, public health officials determined that the volunteers got sick through their contact with calves while working in the barn, and not from something they ate. The barn owner conducted an extensive clean-up, and Tennessee officials shared educational information about the risks of human illness due to contact with animals and their environments. All the sick volunteers returned to their homes and recovered fully from their illness.
“Our FoodCORE interviewers contacted the volunteers, and conducted phone surveys to gather more information. This was no easy task, and without FoodCORE’s help, we would not have been able to identify the source of the outbreak as quickly.”
– Ellyn Marder
CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology Fellow, Tennessee Department of Health