Descriptive epidemiology

As part of the OICC assessment call scheduled for Monday (May 25, 2020), a summary of the descriptive epidemiology of the cases to date needs to be shared with partners in the form of an epidemiological summary (or “epi summary”).

An epi summary is a useful tool to share information about an outbreak during an investigation and is usually distributed prior to OICC calls. It is important to ensure that all investigative partners are using the same information to guide response activities such as public communications and/or food recalls.

Question 1-9: What information should be included in an epi summary?

The layout and content of an epi summary will vary from outbreak to outbreak. An epi summary could include the following sections:

  • Summary table of demographics and outbreak indicators (case count by P/T, age/sex distribution, hospitalizations, deaths, onset date range, reporting delay)
  • Epidemic (epi) curve
  • Epidemiological update (status of case follow up, exposure analyses)
  • Laboratory update
  • Food safety investigation update
  • Communications update (if applicable)
  • Other sections as necessary (e.g., US update)

Epi summaries should always have a date and time stamp, identify who created the document (typically the organization rather than the individual) and include “confidential” and “do not distribute” statements as appropriate. The epi summary should be distributed to the OICC at least 3 hours prior to the call. It should be as up to date as possible (often a data cut-off of 12pm the day prior to the call is used), and new information can be shared verbally on the call.


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