What are the advantages and disadvantages of the case definition?
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The case definition identified would help them in creating awareness to those that are not affected and the emphasis or the reference would be based on those already affected. It will also help the investigators in formulating medication for the outbreak of the infection. Investigators will formulate medication by relating the different cases they have identified with the one they have at hand. This case definition will also help them in dealing with any other infection which has similar or related effects with it (Thomas, et al, 2001).
However, the case definition may also be disadvantageous in that they might mistake an infection with the case definition by looking into the symptoms of the already diagnosed case. This would be very hazardous since a certain infection may have almost the same symptoms as the case definition. This means that a person may be diagnosed a disease which he or she is not suffering from (Bell, 1994).
Describe and compare the age and gender distribution of E. coli O157:H7 cases from this outbreak and those reported from U.S. FoodNet sites in 1997.
There is an indistinguishable pattern between patients suffering from E. coli O157:H7 from those suffering from U.S. FoodNet sites in 1997. From the U.S FoodNet sites in 1997, a greater number in both genders but of different age group were mostly affected by the food crisis compared to those patients that suffered from E. coli O157:H7.As it can be noted from the E. coli O157:H7, the number of men affected is few compared to the number of men suffering from U.S. FoodNet sites in 1997 ((Thomas, et al, 2001).
Statistics shows that approximately 12 (101%) from the case definition against 162 (100) men from the U.S FoodNet sites. It also evident from the age group distribution in U.S FoodNet sites that the suffering has rapidly affected all the age brackets across the pattern as compared to the E. coli O157:H7 where the suffering goes on graduating with the rise in the ages of the patients. Also comparing the two scenarios the total number of patients suffering from U.S FoodNet sites is high- approximately 340 patients as compared to the 38 patients from the E. coli O157:H7 ((Thomas, et al, 2001).
What kinds of questions would you ask in the hypothesis-generating interviews?
I would ask a hypothesis - generating interview to the patients some days before the main interview so as to prepare the patients psychologically on the causes of the illnesses. Most the interview will involve the food issue. Also questions involving the consumption of preferred food items, for instance the alfalfa sprouts and lettuce during the incubation period of the disease would be essential in determining the exact cause of the illness. Questions about the source and quality of water used by the patients would be important in order to determine if the illness was a waterborne or was caused by some other agents ((Thomas, et al, 2001).
Given your knowledge about E. coli O157:H7, the descriptive epidemiology of the initial cases, and the results of hypothesis-generating interviews, outline the information available at this point on the source of the outbreak and mode of transmission
Some of the predisposing factors that may comprise the source of the outbreak of the E. coli O157:H7 may range depending on the physical contact of a person to the illness. As accounted by a report from the U.S FoodNet sites, food that has been contaminated with the bacteria's causing the illness is one of the sources of the disease. Contaminated water is the second source which may cause the illness. Swimming in rivers and lakes with contaminated water may also gradually contribute to the transmission of the disease. Dirty hands may be another source and this occurs if the person had come into contact with any causative agent causing the disease (Bell, 1994).