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Outbreak Investigation Tools
These templates are designed for use in outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis, although they could be adapted for other illnesses. Most templates are intended for user modification to fit the instant circumstances. More specific instructions are embedded within the documents. For more information, contact the FOMES staff.

On This Page:


Shotgun Hypothesis-generating Questionnaire (English)

Shotgun Hypothesis-generating Questionnaire (En Español)

  • ​​Designed for use with subtyping clusters that suggest contaminated commercial food products in wide distribution.
  • Can be used as a stand-alone PDF questionnaire, but formatted for use with a FileMaker database tool that simplifies data entry and analysis.
  • Unlike versions of the shotgun available before October 2013, this questionnaire is generated from a database and is based on an "exposure library" of potential questions.
  • Database users can generate their own questionnaires that differ (shorter, longer, different array of questions, different order) but are compatible in terms of tabulation and analysis
  • Embedded keypunch codes are linked to the database and should not be changed.


Binomial Probability Worksheet

  • What if 5 of 9 cases report consumption of alfalfa sprouts?  Is that "significant"?.
  • This Excel worksheet allows you to calculate the binomial probability of getting X or more yes answers to a given exposure question if you know or can guesstimate the background rate.


Event Outbreak Questionnaire

  • Designed for "local event" outbreaks of gastroenteritis (restraurants, Weddings, etc.).
  • A stand-alone Word file, but formatted for use with a FileMaker database that simplifies data entry, cleaning, analysis, and report writing.


  • Developed jointly by Minnesota and Oregon epidemiologists, this template can be used to collect standardized information about specific products implicated in commercially-distributed food outbreaks.
  • Used to collect specific product details (brand name, lot codes, purchase dates and locations, leftovers, etc.)—typically after a product is implicated. This information is useful to regulatory agencies or others who may be conducting tracebacks.


  • ​​Courses in Communicable Disease Investigation and Control.
  • Oregon local public health officials can self-register on the DHS/OHA Learning Center and select from a variety of online or classroom-based courses.  The Learning Center employs a web-based training tracker and offers courses of interest to CD investigators.


Although many people can be talked into donating a stool specimen, we don’t always get good specimens back from everyone who says yes. Sometimes they don’t come back, and sometimes they aren’t good. After much thought, discussion, and experimentation, we’ve come up with this kit — a revolutionary new packet of materials (in English and Spanish) that makes collecting a stool specimen simple and fun. You distribute the kits, collect them when they’ve been used, process the specimens back at the health department, and send the specimens to the lab (in Oregon, send to OSPHL by courier).

Interviewing Cardinal Rules

This video, starring many members of the Oregon Public Health Division, explains the 10 cardinal rules of effective interviewing. The longer version explains background and is very helpful for understanding outbreak investigation interviewing. The shorter 9-minute version is useful as a quick introduction to volunteer interviewers, for times when it is important to get on the phones as quickly as possible.


Contact Details
Oregon Health Authority
Acute and Communicable Disease Program
800 NE Oregon St #772
Portland, OR 97232
FAX: (971) 673-1100
Work: (971) 673-1111

Many of these outbreak investigation tools were developed by Dr. Bill Keene.

For more information on the life of Dr. Bill Keene and his extraordinary accomplishments, please read Remembering Bill Keene or the CDC article about how he touched so many lives.
Bill Keene was posthumously awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by NSF International at the 2014 Food Safety Summit. Click here to view the award ceremony video.