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518-21 FETP: Outbreak Investigations

Investigating an outbreak is one of the essential basic skills expected from a Field Epidemiologist. This practical field training has been designed to develop the skills to work in the local environment when the need arise. Resident is asked to conduct investigation of the epidemic as the principal investigator, while guidance is provided by an FETP staff. This activity is one of the strongest components of FETP training program.


  • To develop the skills to conduct an epidemic investigation while using the appropriate scientific principles
  • To develop the understanding of disease occurrence and spread
  • To support the MOH in conducting epidemiological investigation and control


  • As the opportunities arise, FETP supervisor will nominate the resident(s) to investigate the epidemics depending on the other assignments of the residents, expected workload and logistic facilities.
  • During the stay in the program attempt will be made to provide each resident to investigate 2 epidemics as lead investigator and another 2 as participant.
  • As part of this activity the resident will perform the following activities, under the direct supervision of a FETP / DCFM-KSU consultant and specialist:
    • Collect the preliminary information about the outbreak by visiting the area, meeting the local notables, examining the effected people in collaboration with the local Health department
    • Design the data collection instruments to collect information about variables of interest
    • Collect the data from the different pertinent sources including patients, controls, health records, municipality records, laboratory investigations, etc.
    • Enter the data by using appropriate computer software
    • Analyze the data to describe the distribution (person, place and time) and determinants (agent, host and environment) of the epidemic
    • Write a report for Ministry of Health, in Arabic, describing the findings in brief and giving recommendations for control of epidemic and prevention of its recurrence
    • Prepare a final report describing the purpose, methods, findings, and recommendations for control and prevention for recurrence, conforming to the guidelines given in relevant section, for submission to the university.
    • Present the findings etc of the study in round table meeting and epidemiological seminars
  • Residents are encouraged to investigate an epidemic independently as principal investigator; however, a resident can share a maximum of one epidemic investigation/ short study with another resident as investigator during his training period, with the written permission of study supervisor. In such a case the study supervisor will evaluate both the investigators separately based on their relative inputs in the study.

Supervision and follow-up:

  • A team of a specialist and a consultant of FETP or DCFM-KSU, will supervise closely the planning, conduction, data analysis, report writing and presentation of outbreak investigation.

Time schedule and submission of reports:

  • Arabic report to MOH within 10 days of his/her return from the field
  • If applicable, submit the University report along with report for Epidemiologic Bulletin, PowerPoint presentation and data disk within 2 months of return from field. However, in case of delay in laboratory reports the report has to be submitted within 3 weeks of receipt of final reports from concerned laboratory.
  • However, all the reports should be submitted by 30th May during the 2nd year of training.  (Or one outbreak investigation along with long project report must be submitted by this date)


A maximum of two epidemics in which resident has acted as lead investigator (alone or shared) will be sent to the University for evaluation as mandatory research projects. The decision about which investigation’s report to be sent to university will depend upon the mutual agreement of the Unit supervisor, supervisor of the epidemic investigation and resident concerned.

Each of the two outbreak investigations (or short studies) submitted to university will be assessed against a total of 350 marks, with a pass percentage of 70%.

  • 50% of the total marks (i.e. 175 marks) will be evaluated by the supervisor of study for ongoing evaluation of the resident’s study related activities (planning, field work, data analysis, report writing).
    • The resident should score at least 50% of these marks before his written report can be submitted to university.
  • 50% of the total marks (i.e. 175 marks) will be evaluated by the examiner, assigned by the University, on the basis of final report submitted, based on following criteria, which will carry 50% of the total score:
    • Abstract 10%;
    • Introduction 10%;
    • Methods 15%;
    • Results 30%;
    • Discussion 25%;
    • References and appendices 5%; and
    • General layout 5%.

Participation in each epidemic investigation will be recorded in the logbook of all participating residents for overall assessment at the end of program.

Delay in submission will result in deduction of 3 marks per week, after the due date (however in case of unavoidable circumstance, beyond the resident’s control, this deduction can be condoned by the supervisor of the FETP while explicitly giving the reason.

Note: In case, a resident is unable to conduct the mandatory epidemic investigation due to non-availability of opportunity or other logistic reasons he/she will conduct a short study on the pattern of long term project, with a limited scope, as a replacement of each mandatory epidemic investigation. Final report of such a project will be 2000-3000 words, excluding table, figures and references. However, the last date of submission of final report, supervisor’s choice and evaluation methods, will remain as for outbreak investigation.