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What is an outbreak?

An outbreak means there are more cases of a specific disease or health condition than public health officials would normally expect. Sometimes, this is also called an epidemic. An outbreak may be identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by the World Health Organization (WHO), or another government or private agency. To determine if there is an outbreak, the number of people affected, and who is at risk, scientists, called epidemiologists, are usually called in to investigate. Other experts may also be needed, depending on the specific condition and other factors, such as whether chemicals, food or animals are involved.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.