Outbreak Management (OM)

Outbreak Management is a subsection of the Public Health Information Network (PHIN) that supports investigating, monitoring, tracking, predicting, analysing and reporting a disease outbreak, public health event or an act of bio terrorism. Outbreak Management came about after 9/11 and the anthrax attacks. Previously the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were required to collect large amounts of case and field specimen data on the anthrax attacks, but because there were no standardization procedures in place, OM arose as a functionality of the PHIN to help manage and analyze the data. Because of the contributions from OM, they were able to contain and identify the source of the attacks.

In order to make the OM process, the CDC must work quickly and efficiently. Standard protocols will be in place to make the OM process run smoothely. The first part of the process is to form an Outbreak Control Team (OCT). The OCT's goals are to primarily assess the situation and provide an intial survey to the CDC. The OCT must have a diverse aray of skills to be effective. They usually consist of a variety of professionals in all different backgrounds. For example, a OCT could have a virologist, a biologist and a health officer accompanies by supporting staff. The OCT will then determine whether there is an outbreak, conduct interviews, sample local food and water sources and implement control measures as well as form a report. All data will be kept in logs and stored in a OM system. An OM system is designed to capture information on demographics, lab results, specimens and investigations. Then the systems will try to form a relationship between them to find the root cause of the outbreak and suggest ways to stop the spread.

Outbreak Management can effectively slow the spread of as well as find the source of outbreaks and biological attacks through the use of OM systems and by following the appropriate protocols. By keeping data and records of outbreaks, we can learn how to better protect ourselves, find the source, control the situation and slow the spread. OM systems are in place to aid us in achieving this. They hold all the information on a variety of outbreak cases ranging from lab results on samples to the locations of cases and can accurately give advice on how to contain the situation.

Currently, Outbreaks are not told to the public until weeks later. As a result, many high-risk people who may be immune-compromised may have already been exposed to diseases.

Using the Web and smartphone apps:

Tracking Outbreaks via Web is a great way for anyone in the world to see what diseases may be in their area. It eliminates delays.HealthMap, an interactive map where anonymous users can post their disease where they are located. With social media postings it would really expand awareness.

A recent article found that infectious outbreaks can be tracked by their genomes. If they combine HealthMap with this sort of tracking device, once it is known that a person has this type of disease, it could be posted via apps on Android and Apple smartphone platforms or via a nearby computer. With technology becoming more affordable, hopefully soon many doctors around the world can post the outbreak or disease notification instantly as it is occurring in "real time".

To visit HeathMap:

Many other feeds from WHO are can be accessed from any device:


One that directly related to this Outbreaks is the Disease Outbreak feed:
There is a Disease Outbreak Feed available:

Related Terminology:
Center for Disease Control - CDC
Public Health Information Network (PHIN)
Disease Surveillance
Health and Human Services - HHS

Works Cited: