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You've got mail!
The CDC has received a call from your state’s Department of Health. Hospitals are reporting an unusual uptick in patients coming in with an unknown, foodborne illness. I’m assigning you and Agent # to this investigation. Decide between yourselves who will interview patients, and who will perform clinical tests.
The Interviewer’s job is to talk to patients and gather clues about what food made them sick and where it came from. Ask about specific foods and locations, and see if there’s any overlap that might point us towards the epidemic’s source. Once you think you’ve found it, we’ll run a statistical test to see whether or not you’re right.
At the same time, the Clinician will determine what pathogen is making all these people sick. Local hospitals have given us samples from five different patients whose symptoms match the case definition. The Clinician will perform tests on those samples to ID the microbe. We also need to know if all the patients got sick from the same source, so once they’ve identified the pathogen, the Clinician will need to perform a DNA Fingerprint test to make sure all the patients were infected by the same strain of microbe. Unfortunately, our lab space is limited, so they'll only be able to run two tests at a time. Make them count!
Once you two have identified the pathogen and found its source, I want you to write up some recommendations. You’re the ones who have been on the ground, so you should have a good idea how we can stem this outbreak and prevent future ones.
Neither one of you will be able to solve this case on your own, so I expect both of you to give it your all. Lives are on the line, but I have faith in you two. Just remember, every failed hypothesis means you’re one step closer to the right answer!
Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control
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