About Unexplained Respiratory Disease Outbreaks

Key points

  • It can be challenging to investigate respiratory disease outbreaks, which are common.
  • Determining which pathogen is the cause (etiology) of an outbreak is critical to implementing appropriate control measures.
  • Use CDC's resources to aid in investigating unexplained respiratory disease outbreaks (URDO).

More Information

Medical drawing of lungs

CDC's approach

CDC uses a multidisciplinary team approach to help local, state, and international public health officials in URDO investigations. More than 40 epidemiology and laboratory experts in infectious and non-infectious respiratory diseases make up the URDO work group.

Work group activities

When public health officials request assistance, the URDO work group convenes to discuss possible causes with the requester. The work group also provides technical expertise and specialized resources that are often only available at CDC.

CDC laboratories can test for a wide variety of viral, bacterial, and other pathogens at the same time. This allows the work group to quickly determine the cause of the outbreak and help prevent others from becoming ill.