Epidemic Intelligence: How to Identify, Investigate and Interrupt Outbreaks of Disease


Stanford School of Medicine

Epidemic Intelligence


When the number of cases of an infectious disease in an area spike beyond what is to be expected, it is called an outbreak. In the case of COVID-19, the outbreak was first identified in one region but spread quickly beyond, ultimately causing a global pandemic that has had severe impacts on public health, world economies, and personal lives. In this course you will learn how to define an outbreak and investigate its causes. You will gain an understanding of how local, state and federal health authorities work together and what criteria are used to make decisions. You will learn how investigations are critical to understanding the cause of an outbreak and determining the best methods to contain or eradicate the disease. You will gain an appreciation for real-life public health practice and the laws that govern it.

What you will learn

  • Why and how an outbreak is investigated
  • What are the purposes of surveillance
  • What skills are needed to conduct field investigation
  • Which tools are used in investigating outbreaks

Topics include

  • Principles of disease outbreak investigation and surveillance
  • Type of study design for field investigations
  • Visualization and interpretation of public health data

Course Availability

The course schedule is displayed for planning purposes – courses can be modified, changed, or cancelled. Course availability will be considered finalized on the first day of open enrollment. For quarterly enrollment dates, please refer to our graduate education section.

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