Outbreak Response Resources

A waterborne outbreak is a cluster of two or more infections caused by the same agent(s) and linked to the same water exposure. Outbreaks can be caused by water contaminated with pathogens, chemicals, or toxins which can be spread through ingestion of, contact with, or breathing contaminated water.

State and territorial health departments can request epidemiologic assistance, water quality assessment, and laboratory testing from CDC during waterborne disease outbreaks.

Collection of large-volume water samples might be required to identify pathogens that require special protocols for their recovery. The EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline can be consulted for information about drinking water rules, guidance, and regulations or to identify state and local laboratories certified for drinking water quality testing.  The US Geological SurveyExternal  can be consulted, in cooperation with state and local agencies, for assistance with hydrogeologic investigations of outbreaks when untreated ground water is suspected.

Requests for CDC Outbreak Consultations, Laboratory Testing, and Assistance

(e.g., outbreak investigations, water system issues, epidemiologic assistance, water testing, diagnosis of free-living amebae, or molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium and Giardia)

Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch
Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC
Telephone: 404-639-1700
Email: healthywater@cdc.gov
Internet: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/

Division of Viral Diseases
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
Telephone: 800-232-4636

Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch
Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, CDC
Telephone: 404-639-3334

Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
Center for Global Health, CDC
Telephone: 404-718-4745
Internet: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/

You can also access Parasitic Diseases laboratory assistance support through DPDx. DPDx is a Web site developed and maintained by CDC that uses the Internet to assist laboratorians and pathologists in the diagnosis of parasitic diseases, both in the United States and abroad. DPDx has a Reference and Training function, in which all users can browse through concise reviews of parasites and parasitic diseases, including an image library and a review of recommended procedures for collecting, shipping, processing, and examining biologic specimens. There is also a Diagnostic Assistance function, in which laboratorians and other health professionals desiring assistance in parasite identification can ask questions and/or send digital images of specimens for expedited review and consultation with DPD staff. Assistance is free of charge.

Division of Bacterial Diseases
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
Telephone: 404-639-2215
Internet: https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/health-depts/inv-tools-cluster/request-assistance.html

More Information

CDC
Internet: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/

  • Drinking water health communication and education resources for the general public
  • Information on maintaining individual wells and effectively disinfecting water when camping, hiking, or traveling
  • Outbreak investigation toolkit and technical information concerning laboratory diagnostics

Environmental Protection Agency
Telephone: 800-426-4791
Email: hotline-sdwa@epa.gov
Internet: http://water.epa.gov/drink/hotline/index.cfmExternal

Environmental Protection Agency
Microbiological and Chemical Exposure Assessment Research Division
National Exposure Research Laboratory
Telephone: 513-569-7303

Environmental Protection Agency
Microbiological and Chemical Exposure Assessment Research Division
National Exposure Research Laboratory
Telephone: 513-569-7303