AskDefine | Define outbreak

Dictionary Definition

outbreak n : a sudden violent spontaneous occurrence (usually of some undesirable condition); "the outbreak of hostilities" [syn: eruption, irruption]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A sudden increase
    There has been an outbreak of head lice at the local school.
  2. An outburst or sudden eruption, especially violent
    There has been an outbreak of broken windows in the street.

See also


Extensive Definition

Outbreak is a classification used in epidemiology to describe a small, localized group of people or organisms infected with a disease. Such groups are often confined to a village or a small area. Two linked cases of an infectious disease are usually sufficient to constitute an outbreak. Outbreaks may also refer to epidemics, which affect a region in a country or a group of countries, or pandemics, which describe global disease outbreaks.

Outbreak Investigation

When investigating disease outbreaks, the epidemiology profession has developed a number of widely accepted steps. As described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these include the following:
  • Verify the diagnosis related to the outbreak
  • Identify the existence of the outbreak: is the group of ill persons normal for the time of year, geographic area, etc.?
  • Create a case definition to define who/what is included as a case
  • Complete descriptive epidemiology: describe outbreak with respect to time, place, and people
  • Develop a hypothesis: what appears to be causing the outbreak?
  • Study hypothesis: collect data and perform analysis
  • Refine hypothesis and carry out further study
  • Develop and implement control and prevention systems
  • Release findings to greater community


  • Common source (Point source)
  • Propagated
  • Continuous source
  • Zoonotic


outbreak in Spanish: Brote
outbreak in Japanese: アウトブレイク
outbreak in Portuguese: Surto

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

A, alpha, beginning, belch, blast-off, blaze, burst, cascade, civil disorder, commencement, convulsion, creation, cutting edge, cyclone, dawn, debouchment, dissiliency, edge, emeute, eructation, eruption, establishment, explosion, fit, flare-up, flying start, foundation, fresh start, gale, general uprising, gush, gust, hurricane, institution, insurgence, insurgency, insurrection, irruption, jacquerie, jet, jump-off, kick-off, leading edge, levee en masse, mutiny, new departure, oncoming, onset, opening, origin, origination, outburst, outset, paroxysm, peasant revolt, putsch, rapids, rebellion, revolt, revolution, riot, rising, running start, rush, seizure, send-off, setting in motion, setting-up, spasm, spate, spew, spurt, square one, start, start-off, starting point, storm, take-off, tempest, tornado, torrent, upheaval, uprising, volcan, whirlwind
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