Part I

Upon hearing from the students, I would ask them few questions, First would be on when did they start experiencing these symptoms. It would help to determine the period in which the students had become ill. Further, I would interrogate them to find out the type of medicine they had taken as the drug could have had side effects that could be fatal. I would also ask them why they decided not to see a physician immediately or visit the emergency room. This complaint should be investigated further since the illness had not been addressed by a medical practitioner and could be a serious problem considering that the students had just had some relief after taking mentioned over-the-counter drugs (Marshal, 2011).

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An outbreak is a sudden and serious or violent occurrence of something dangerous. In our case it is a disease that affects a population in a certain geographical area with severe consequences such as death. The mentioned cases of gastroenteritis represent an occurrence of an outbreak since at the local hospital A 23 cases of acute gastroenteritis had been reported by students from the University with similar symptoms within a span of one day. To support my argument, it is stated that only 3 cases of the disease had been reported at the hospital during 5-9 of March and patients were not from this University in Texas but from other places. This shows that there was an outbreak since the cases were reported within a short period and by patients from the same place (Marshal, 2011).

Together with the stool specimen presented to the laboratory for further investigation, the names of the patients, their age and gender should be included. The area or place which the patient comes from should also be included to find out if the case was reported by a student in the University Health Center or the other different places or hospitals. The bacterial cultures should be presented and well labeled together with description of source they came from. The information would be used to determine the cause of the outbreak and the areas hit. This would help to define what caused the outbreak and, probably, offer a choice for the measures to undertake to curb the whole issue (Webber, 2009).

The bacterial culture results would help to determine what disease had arisen and whether it was the reported symptoms of gastroenteritis. They would also assist in the investigation of other serious diseases that might have similar symptoms as gastroenteritis. Mostly, this illness is caused by viral infections and in rare cases by bacterial ones. There, the results indicating that the several tests for different infections had not showed positive results would have brought the proof that the said disease could probably have been gastroenteritis (Marshal, 2011).

Upon meeting with the university officials, several topics would have to be discussed most of which could be reflections from the reported cases of the disease. We would first ask ourselves what might have contributed to the breakout of the illness among the students who lived in the university campus. Why freshmen and, particularly, females were the most affected? We should also ask ourselves why the university staffs and the local community were not infected by the disease. These questions could help us to come up with possible solutions to curb the problem and prevent further cases being reported (Webber, 2009).

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Upon interviewing different individuals with the particular symptoms, I would draw several hypotheses about the pathogen. If the students had not been relying on the university cafeteria for most of their meals, the outbreak would not have been reported. If the students resided outside the university campus, they would also have not contracted the symptoms of gastroenteritis. Further, I would make an educated guess that the disease was viral and was transmitted through fluids. This shows that the drinks and food that the students ate in the main university cafeteria were the source of the outbreak. It seemed to occur during the spring break when many students were having their break from school activities and were mostly involved in parties and reunions where they could consume contaminated food or drinks (Webber, 2009).

Having found that the outbreak was mostly reported from students who took their meals in the university cafeteria, I would order for investigation on the method of cooking that the cooks used to prepare the food, their state of health and the sources where they got their food supplies. I would launch a thorough investigation on these workers and their supervisor. I would also question the supply department about the sources of supplies where they got their food. Most probably, the origin of the pathogen could have been the university cafeteria and I would base my inquest there since it was the area from where the cases were mostly reported (Marshal, 2011).

There are some disadvantages of conducting a case control study within a cohort of students. They are that some people had already contacted the diseased and others had not been exposed to the illness. Thus, it would be difficult to draw the effects of the disease in an individual who had not contacted it. While holding the non-infected students constant, the conclusions that one would cause this incident and the extent to which the disease could affect an individual would be biased (Webber, 2009).

From the table presented after examination of the affected students was conducted and the date of infection, it is clear that the cases were mostly reported to have taken place on March, 9, during lunch time. The data shows a large percentage of infected students who were exposed to the sources of contamination for the disease to occur. The extent of infection was also not clear as some students did not remember the exact time or meal which they had eaten and that brought the adverse effects (Webber, 2009). The data shows that the students became mostly ill on March, 9, during lunch time. To prevent the problem from occurring in future, I would contact the health officers who would check whether the food was safe for human consumption and the measures to undertake to prevent further contaminations (Marshal, 2011).

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Part II

Based on the reflections brought upon during investigating the causes of this epidemic, I would contact the office of supplies that dealt with the purchase of the food stores and the shops where they were bought. I would also contact the office of health quality assurance, who would always make decisions whether to consume the food or not. The personnel of the university cafeteria would also be in contact with the source of contamination while preparing food (Marshal, 2011).

The case required immediate health response as many students fell ill within a short period and severe consequences would occur when the issue was not addressed. The disease could be termed as an epidemic as it seemed to occur at a particular time and at particular area among the university students who resided in the campus (Webber, 2009). The following questions would be asked informants who contacted a certain disease within a certain time: What food did you consume and when? They could also be asked about the number of people who had been together with them sharing the same meal and contacting the same disease (Webber, 2009). The criteria for investigating a suspected outbreak of a foodborne disease could be based on what type of food was consumed, frequency of consuming the food, source of food and number of infected individuals who have consumed the food.

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