Outbreak Database
Worldwide Database for Nosocomial Outbreaks
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Outbreaks in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities can cause serious problems for patients and health care personnel. An efficient identification of the outbreak’s origin is important to prevent further spread of pathogens. Finding the source of an outbreak is not feasible in many cases and often time-consuming and labour-intensive analyses are necessary. But also the immediate initiation of prevention measures like the use of barrier precautions or the change of disinfecting agents has to be to considered during the actual outbreak management. Published outbreak reports in the literature are an essential support for the outbreak management. In medical databases like PubMed or Medline one easily finds a big amount of publications concerning outbreaks or a certain pathogen. But not all of these publications might be helpful in the case of an outbreak investigation. Mostly only a fraction of the articles achieved describes outbreaks and measures which have been accomplished. Finding the relevant articles as far as the gathering of specific informations is a time-consuming matter.

Outbreak Database is an online database of outbreaks that took place in the health care setting and are published in the literature. The project was started in 2001 by infection control and hospital epidemiology experts and the data is updated continuously. Outbreak Database currently contains 3751 outbreaks published from the years 1936 to 2023 with 330 different pathogens. Information about an outbreak in the literature is entered in a structured way into Outbreak Database. Different fields and categories (e.g. setting, persons affected, type of microorganism, source, mode of transmission, prevention measures) are defined to ease an overview about the information of the original article. Every article entered into Outbreak Database is available as a structured version (PDF data file). A hyperlink to the original article is also provided. (See the field reference for more information on the structure of an Outbreak article.) In addition Outbreak Database offers a search function which allows an easy overview over all outbreaks regarding special aspects of information. Queries are possible for all types of the defined fields and categories (e.g. for a specific pathogen or a specific setting). It is also possible to search for a combination of fields and categories (e.g. outbreaks with a specific pathogen that took place in a specific setting). The results of the users query are listed in various selectable ways.

Outbreak Database is not only a tool for the acute outbreak management. It is also very valuable for obtaining information for education and training as far as for scientific work.

The database was originally started by the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology, Medical School Hannover, Germany, the company Schülke & Mayr, Norderstedt, Germany and the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité – University Medicine Berlin, Germany. Currently all processes concerning Outbreak Database are assigned to the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité – University Medicine Berlin, Germany.