Outbreak - Types

Types

There are several outbreak patterns, which can be useful in identifying the transmission method or source, and predicting the future rate of infection. Each has a distinctive epidemic curve, or histogram of case infections and deaths.

  • Common source – All victims acquire the infection from the same source (e.g. a contaminated water supply).
    • Continuous source – Common source outbreak where the exposure occurs over multiple incubation periods
    • Point source – Common source outbreak where the exposure occurs in less than one incubation period
  • Propagated – Transmission occurs from person to person.

Outbreaks can also be:

  • Behavioral risk related (e.g., sexually transmitted diseases, increased risk due to malnutrition)
  • Zoonotic – The infectious agent is endemic to an animal population.

Patterns of occurrence are:

  • Endemic – a communicable disease, such as influenza, measles, mumps, pneumonia, colds, small pox, which is characteristic of a particular place, or among a particular group, or area of interest or activity
  • Epidemic – when this disease is found to infect a significantly larger number of people at the same time than is common at that time, and among that population, and may spread through one or several communities.
  • Pandemic – occurs when an epidemic spreads worldwide.

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