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Outbreak Investigation in a Vermont Community Hospital

Subject areas: biology, environmental science
Grade level: 11th-12th
Level of difficulty: moderate
Prerequisite: none

Summary: This unit focuses on an actual outbreak that occurred in 1980 among employees of a hospital in Vermont. The story unfolds in stages, and students are given the story in pieces, just as the original investigators would have uncovered it. After receiving each new part of the story, students are asked to reflect on the implications of the new information and to consider what information they would seek next.

Students will recognize the characteristic features of a common source outbreak. They will also critically judge the evidence supporting or refuting a particular hypothesis about the cause of the outbreak and understand the role of the environment constructed by humans in contributing to environmental health problems.

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