Investigation of Unusual Spike in Student Absences

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* Define the problem and verify if the illness is an outbreak * Assemble and organize available health information for analysis * Formulate a hypothesis about the cause of the illness
* Test the hypothesis by analyzing data on the distribution of the disease by person, time and place. * Draw conclusions and make recommendations to prevent further transmission of the disease and prevent a new outbreak. Background Information:

Potential health problem identified by a local middle school principle after one-third of the band students were absent on the same day. The principle notified the Community Health Department and an investigator has been assigned. Where are the unusual spikes of absences taking place?

Based on information gathered, the absences occurred on Wednesday, May 20th from the Truman Middle School band class the day after a band competition with Jackson Middle School. According to the schools attendance data 33.3 % of the band students from Truman Middle School and 25% of the band students from Jackson Middle School were absent from class on Wednesday, May 20th. Results of interviews with parents of absent students: Truman Middle School had 9 confirmed cases of similar GI symptoms & Jackson Middle School had 7 confirmed cases of similar GI symptoms. Hypotheses behind student absences:

Food Poisoning due to cross contamination is responsible for the student absences. * The symptoms of food poisoning can develop rapidly, within 30 minutes, or slowly, worsening over days to weeks. Most of the common contaminants cause: * nausea

* vomiting
* diarrhea
* abdominal cramping
* fever
* Usually food poisoning is not serious, and the illness runs its course in 24-48 hours (Cunha, n.d.)
* Observation notes:
After an inspection of the Take Your Chances Diner, several violations were noted including wiping cloths used by cooks for wiping down food contact surfaces were not cleaned and...
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