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Applying Epidemiology for Gastroenteritis Case

TDH staff were skeptical of the student's report but felt that a minimal amount of exploration was
necessary. They began by making a few telephone calls to establish the facts and determine if other
persons were similarly affected. The pizzeria, where the student and his roommate had eaten, was
closed until 11:00 A.M. There was no answer at the University Student Health Center, so a message
was left on its answering machine.
A call to the emergency room at a local hospital (Hospital A) revealed that 23 university students
had been seen for acute gastroenteritis in the last 24 hours. In contrast, only three patients had been
seen at the emergency room for similar symptoms from March 5-9, none of whom were associated
with the university.
At 10:30 A.M., the physician from the University Student Health Center returned the call from
TDH and reported that 20 students with vomiting and diarrhea had been seen the previous day. He
believed only 1-2 students typically would have been seen for these symptoms in a week. The Health
Center had not collected stool specimens from any of the ill students.

Question 3: Do you think these cases of gastroenteritis represent an outbreak at the university?
Why or why not?

Solution Preview

Yes, because all of the cases emanated from the University, which dictates that gastroenteritis could be ...

Solution Summary

This solution applies the principles of epidemiology to determine if gastroenteritis emanated from the university.