Documenting the outbreak: final investigation summary

The final investigation summary (or epi summary) has similar content and layout to the “regular” epi summary. However, since the final investigation summary often serves as the official record of the outbreak investigation, it tends to be longer, with more background/context than typical epi summaries. It also includes overall investigative conclusions and recommendations.

Question 4-4: What additional information could be included on a “final” investigation summary?

Final investigation summaries will vary depending on the outbreak. Not all of the sections below are needed each and every time:

  • Summary (e.g., overall summary of basic descriptive epidemiology of cases, main findings, and the final conclusion)
  • Introduction (e.g., how the outbreak was identified and initial investigation)
  • Background (e.g., pathogen, similar outbreaks, special population at risk or setting)
  • Epidemiological summary
  • Case definition(s)
  • Descriptive epidemiology: table of cases by region/case type, age/sex distribution of cases, epidemic curve
  • Exposures (e.g., table of exposure frequencies, proportion of cases exposed to implicated product)
  • Laboratory summary: human isolates and non-human isolates, WGS tree
  • Food safety/environmental investigation (e.g., Traceback and sample results)
  • Discussion and recommendations
  • Conclusion
  • References

See the example final investigation summary for this outbreak (Module 4 – Final investigation summary).


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