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Investigation Team

The composition of an outbreak investigation team varies, but almost always requires laboratory, epidemiology, environmental health, and communication skills. Depending on resources and the size of the department, there may be many people on the outbreak investigation team, or in some cases a couple of people may fill all of the roles. It is essential that team members work together and support each other throughout the outbreak investigation.

Environmental Health

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  • Receive and interpret foodborne illness complaints
  • Investigate suspected food and/or food establishments
  • Interview food workers and managers
  • Examine food storage, handling, preparation
  • Identify factors that resulted in food contamination
  • Collect environmental and food samples


  • Analyze clinical, food, and environmental specimens
  • Interpret test results
  • Advise the team about tests and collection, handling, storage, and transport of specimens
  • Coordinate additional testing by partner labs


icon of a person in charge of communications

It is important to designate someone who will…

  • Be in charge of internal and external communications
  • Serve as a spokesperson to the media
  • Coordinate communication between team members


  • Analyze data from pathogen-specific surveillance and identify clusters
  • Characterize cases by time, place, and person
  • Plan epidemiologic studies
  • Interview cases and healthy controls
  • Analyze and interpret results of epidemiologic studies
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Investigation Steps