Gastroenteritis at a University in Texas

These Epidemiologic Case Studies are based on historical events and include epidemiologic methods that were practiced at the time. Given the historical nature of this content, the methods that are referenced on this site may be outdated practices in some settings. As some of the practices are still used, they continue to offer educational value.

Target Audience

Public health practitioners with knowledge of basic epidemiologic concepts and experience in data collection and analysis

Learning Objectives

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

  • List categories and examples of questions that should be asked of key informants who report a suspected outbreak of foodborne disease.
  • List four criteria for prioritizing the investigation of suspected foodborne disease outbreaks.
  • List three common pitfalls in the collection of clinical specimens for the investigation of suspected foodborne diseases.
  • Determine the most efficient epidemiologic study design to test a hypothesis (including the case definition and the appropriate comparison group).
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of questionnaire administration e.g., self-administered, telephone, in-person.
  • List key areas of focus in interviewing foodhandlers and observing kitchen practices in a foodborne disease outbreak investigation.


Successful completion of training in descriptive epidemiology, epidemic curves, measures of association, stratified analysis, study design, and outbreak investigation






3 to 4 hours

Continuing Education

Continuing education credits are not available for completing this case study.

Developed By

Jeanette K. Stehr-Green, MD developed this case study in close collaboration with staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • National Center for Infectious Diseases (Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases/ Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch and Food Safety Office, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases)
  • Epidemiology Program Office (Division of International Health)
  • Public Health Practice Program Office (Division of Professional Development and Evaluation)

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.