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An outbreak may be defined as an incident in which two or more people experiencing a similar illness are linked in time or place, or more people than you would expect with the same infection.

Is it an outbreak?

Managers or the senior in charge should contact their local health protection team as soon as they suspect an outbreak to discuss the situation and agree if any actions are needed. It is useful to have the information listed below available before this discussion as it will help to inform the size and nature of the outbreak:

  • Total numbers affected (staff and residents)
  • Symptoms
  • Date(s) when symptoms started

If you suspect cases of infectious illness but are unsure if it is an outbreak, please contact the Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council Health Protection Team by calling Dudley Council Plus, and inform your local Health Protection Team at Public Health England. 

How to report

Health and social care settings are asked to telephone their local Health Protection Team as soon as possible to report any serious or unusual illness particularly for:

  • Escherichia coli (VTEC) (also called E.coli 0157) or E coli VTEC infection
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting from unknown cause
  • Scabies
  • Flu
  • Shingles
  • MRSA

The full list of notifiable diseases was updated in 2010. Your local Health Protection Team at Public Health England can also draft letters and provide factsheets to ensure the most up to date information is given.


It is important to note that health protection teams are bound to manage personal case details in strict confidence. Therefore, information given to health and social care settings from the team for distribution during an outbreak will never name cases or give out any personal details. Organisations where cases are identified are also bound to manage personal case details in strict confidence.