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National outbreak investigation

We apply our knowledge of infectious and other diseases to investigate major outbreaks of disease in Bangladesh, in partnership with national and international bodies.

Bangladesh faces many infectious disease challenges, from long-established diseases such as cholera to emerging infections such as Nipah virus. As well as ongoing research into these diseases, we also contribute to national initiatives to investigate major infectious disease outbreaks and to identify suitable control measures, in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh’s Institute of Epidemiology and Disease Control Research (IEDCR), and with important support from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These partnerships were set up following investigation of Nipah virus outbreaks in 2004. From 2007, our researchers have been seconded to IEDCR specifically for outbreak investigation. The Government of Bangladesh has the mandate to investigate outbreaks, but can benefit from our experience and expertise.

Around 15–20 times a year, an interdisciplinary outbreak team is put together in response to a newly identified threat. Infectious diseases are a common reason for mobilisation, but other sudden outbreaks are also investigated, such as mass poisoning or environmental hazards. The team undertakes the detective work needed to identify possible causes and, where possible, suggests measures to control the outbreak.

Interdisciplinary teams have investigated a wide range of health threats, including severe cholera outbreaks, a death from H5N1 influenza, and illness linked to contaminated watermelons.

The CDC provides important scientific input and financial support for outbreak investigation. The CDC, icddr,b and IEDCR also work closely on ongoing infectious disease surveillance across Bangladesh – for example, as part of the Global Disease Detection network, an early warning system for emerging disease outbreaks spanning 10 sites across the globe.