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Environmental Investigations

Explore findings from our environmental investigations for outbreaks, emergencies, and other environmental health issues.

Foodborne Illness Outbreak Investigations

Photo of a head of spinach

Environmental Investigation of a Multistate E. coli Outbreak on Spinach

Read about our watershed-scale investigation of the outbreak, including the potential effects of irrigation water quality.

Waterborne Illness Outbreak Investigations

Photo of an outdoor HVAC air conditioner unit located on a high-floor porch of a New York skyscraper.

A Large Community Outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease Associated With a Cooling Tower in New York City, 2015

Read this new report about an outbreak in an NYC cooling tower in 2015.

Cover image of the December issue of the Journal of Environmental Health.

Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak at a Long-Term Care Facility in Ohio, 2013 [PDF – 688 KB]

On July 9, 2013, an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was identified at a Long-Term Care Facility in central Ohio. This article describes the investigation of the outbreak and identification of the source, a cooling tower using an automated biocide delivery system. EHS participated in the environmental assessment.

Photo of a field of spinach with irrigation water fountains

Irrigation Water Issues Potentially Related to Multistate E. coli Outbreak on Spinach

A restaurant chain received spinach contaminated with E. coli, which made many people ill. Environmental health investigators traced the spinach back to one farm’s irrigation system.

Image of a map of South Bass Island

South Bass Island Assessment [PDF – 1.97 MB]

At the request of the Ohio Department of Health, EHS investigated the potential sources of water contamination on South Bass Island in 2004. Ohio asked for assistance because slightly more than 1,000 persons reported a sudden onset of symptoms that included diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and vomiting.

Photo of a girl with a bucket of water on her head and boy playing with it.

Haiti Assistance after Earthquake

After the devastating earthquake in January 2010 and the cholera outbreak in October 2010, water and sanitation conditions were at crisis levels. Before these events, Haiti had the lowest water and sanitation coverage in the western hemisphere. To address the cholera epidemic, CDC provided targeted technical assistance on water, sanitation, and hygiene. This work is now managed by CDC’s Center for Global Health.

Vectorborne Outbreak Investigations

Photo of a dog with an earful of ticks

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) Rodeo Project

In 2012 CDC began working with American Indian communities in Arizona to control Rocky Mountain spotted fever after an outbreak of the vector borne disease. CDC’s EHS helped develop and implement a reservation-wide dog collaring program to halt disease spread by dogs, the main source of exposure to disease-transmitting ticks.

Other Investigations

Photo of members of EHSB inspecting the lead smelter

Lead Exposure Reduction Plan in La Oroya, Peru

In March 2004, EHS collaborated with other scientists to provide technical assistance in the development of an integrated plan for addressing lead pollution problems in La Oroya, Peru. The team assessed conditions that may be contributing to reported health complaints and elevated blood lead levels in the smelter community of La Oroya.