An outbreak is a sudden increase in the occurrence of a disease or condition, in excess of what would normally be expected in a community, geographical area or season. An outbreak can occur at any time of the year. Rock County Public Health Department routinely investigates all foodborne and communicable disease outbreaks. 

Outbreaks have the ability to affect large numbers of people as the disease spreads. They can be caused by a virus, such as the flu, or be a food or waterborne illness. Public health’s job is to control the occurrence of a disease and prevent the further spread of disease. This is done by investigating an outbreak and collecting data. The data provide valuable information to ongoing public health surveillance and disease knowledge. In turn, this can guide us in future public health policy and action. According to the CDC, steps you can take to prevent the spread of germs include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.