Outbreak Response

Current and Past Outbreaks

During a multistate enteric (foodborne, waterborne, animal contact, or person-to-person) or fungal disease outbreak, CDC serves as lead coordinator between public health partners to detect the outbreak, determine its size and extent, and identify the source. Public health officials investigate outbreaks to control them, so more people do not get sick in the outbreak, and to learn how to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future.

Learn more about the types of outbreaks DFWED investigates:

Advanced Lab Methods Help Find Outbreaks

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) provides genetic information about germs that make people sick. CDC uses this information to find, investigate, and prevent illnesses caused by bacteria, fungi, and parasites. These capabilities are especially important when looking for the source of an outbreak or trying to predict antimicrobial resistance. WGS provides highly detailed and timely information that helps CDC and other government agencies protect the public’s health.

WGS also enables CDC to find and investigate groups of illnesses that are caused by the same bacterial strain but that occur over time periods longer than an acute outbreak. These strains can reoccur and periodically cause acute outbreaks, emerge and cause an increasing number of illnesses, or persist and cause illnesses over periods of months or years. They may continue to cause illnesses despite investigation and prevention efforts. CDC refers to these strains as reoccurring, emerging, or persisting (REP).

Short-term Epidemiologic Assistance

CDC helps investigate domestic and global outbreaks when epidemiological assistance is requested. CDC can help in different ways, including assisting with emergency responses and investigating infectious and environmental disease outbreaks. An “Epi-Aid” is a shorter-term CDC response to requests from public health departments.

Our global investigations are conducted in collaboration with international partners, such as ministries of health and the World Health Organization, as well as CDC’s Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response program.