An outbreak report is a document summarising all the steps, main findings and recommendations of the outbreak investigation. It is a public record which has to be objective to reflect the reality of the investigation, clear so that decision makers and the scientific community can understand and use its content, and timely to provide feedback and recommendations on time to those who need them. It is better to have a short outbreak report soon rather than a very long document many months or years after the investigation.
The outbreak control team should write the outbreak report. Each member should contribute to have a comprehensive report including all the steps and aspects of the investigation.
The authors should be named specifying their role in the outbreak control team.
Each participating agency should agree with the document and this is often a challenge, especially if the aim is to have a timely report.
Another issue which needs to be agreed upon before starting writing the report is who owns the report: the participating agencies? the local authorities? the national authorities? the patients? the public?
The outbreak report is a document that each agency represented in the OCT will use to document its activities. Policy making bodies request it to have evidence for public health action. Moreover, professional colleagues will use it as reference for other similar outbreaks. The public may be also interested in reading the report to evaluate risks and be informed about the subject. Finally, as mentioned previously, if there is a suit against one of the involved parties, the outbreak report can be requested as legal document.