The epidemic curve

Important Note: Please be sure you have completed your Reading Assignments and viewed the Unit Multimedia Presentations and Unit Lecture before you begin this assignment.

An epidemiology curve is perhaps the most common tool used to illustrate disease patterns overtime. This type of chart, also known as a histogram, not only shows the outbreak time-line during an outbreak investigation but can assist with determining the success of disease control efforts. Here are some important components of creating an epidemic curve:

  • The X-axis (horizontal axis) is normally the date of illness onset
  • The Y-axis (vertical axis) is normally the number of cases (persons ill) of disease on the illness onset date
  • The count of cases (the bar of the graph) should be centered between the date/time intervals with a zero gap between the bars
  • Show pre-epidemic cases before the diseases outbreak. These cases may represent the cause of the epidemic.

Part 1: Using Microsoft Excel, organize the following data in a table using proper column headings (date of onset and case count).

Date of Illness Onset

6/15

6/17

6/17

6/18

6/18

6/18

6/19

6/19

6/19

6/19

6/19

6/19

6/19

6/20

6/20

6/20

6/20

6/20

6/20

6/20

6/21

6/21

6/21

6/21

6/21

6/22

6/22

6/22

6/22

6/23

6/23

6/23

6/23

6/24

6/24

6/26

6/27

6/27

6/27

6/28

6/28

6/28

6/28

6/28

6/28

6/28

Part 2: Next create an epidemic curve like the histogram pictured below. Be sure to properly label your graph. There are multiple methods to creating a histogram but regardless of the tool used, the important factor is organizing the data to produce the graph. The list of disease onset dates is in chronological order. In many outbreaks, a case of disease is not always identified and logged in the sequence of disease onset. In other words, your data collection tool will rarely be in chronological order. Note that a few dates are not listed because there were no cases reported. Be sure to include theses dates in your epidemic curve. YOU MUST SHOW YOUR WORK IN AN EXCEL SPREADSHEET. Charts pasted in a document will not be accepted.

Please go to Lynda.com (Links to an external site.) to view the short video titled Histogram Chart (Links to an external site.)(time: 4 min 14 secs) for help on creating a histogram.

Note: Excel has a Data Analysis feature to create a histogram. It will even summarize your data and create the graph if the data is organized properly.

Example

Epidemic Curve

Answer the following questions about the epidemic curve you created:

  • What is the date of the likely index case?
  • Considering what the epidemic curve is showing after 6/26, what can you infer about the outbreak control measures?

Create the table, the epidemic curve, and write your answers in the same Excel file. Submit your file using the Upload Instructions below.

 
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