Ecological Study

Student Role

The evidence you collected while conducting the investigation of the two preceding outbreaks of Susser Syndrome in Epiville pointed in the direction of Glop Industries as the main culprit (See Cohort and Case-Control modules). Unfortunately, a new wave of cases has appeared in recent weeks. With potentially half of the city at risk, Glop Industries has made a public statement saying that the new outbreak is not connected with SUPERCLEAN production.

Dr. Zapp's office is busy trying to avert another disaster. As one of her key team members, she commissions you to design and conduct an ecological study. You return to your office and immediately turn into the WEPI1 website to see if there are any news reports about the new outbreak.

logo_wepi1_small.gif BREAKING NEWS

"Good morning, I am Lynn Simmons reporting from the Epiville General Hospital. The rare and debilitating disease doctors call Susser Syndrome appears to be striking Epiville residents again. We spoke with hospital officials today, and they report that the number of Susser Syndrome patients has been slowly rising over the past 2 years. Since March, however, doctors have reported an unprecedented increase. The cause of this increase is unknown, although medical experts believe it to be linked to an environmental exposure.

"Stay tuned as Channel 1 News continues to investigate this Susser Syndrome outbreak. Channel 1 has learned that residents in the Epiville areas serviced by the Rothman Reservoir have reported a soapy flavor to their water. Those who use the Greenland Reservoir water have made no complaints, although officials are concerned about what appears to be increased algae growth."

Based on the newscast, you decide to gather more information about both Glop Industries and the Epiville water reservoirs. The City of Epiville has a nicely designed website of the Chamber of Commerce which provides you with the links to the following information:

* Glop Industries which produces the suspected causal agent SUPERCLEAN
* Porks-A-Lot Pig Farm located close to one of the water reservoirs

Based on your research, you decide to check out the Porks-A-Lot Pig Farm. You enter the pig farm and are greeted by Herman Murtz, the facilities leader.

Interview - D. Herman Murtz

"You never do get used to that smell, do you? With just over 1,000 pigs, waste is always a problem. Back in the old days, we would just hose everything out and let it run off into the Sludge River. Just a few months ago we revamped the system. Now, we first give all the pens a hosing, run it through a filter, and collect the initial runoff in evaporating pools. After the first hosing, we spray every inch of the pens with SUPERCLEAN to sterilize and disinfect everything. SUPERCLEAN doesn't evaporate well so we drain it into the Sludge River where it gets diluted. To the best of my knowledge, this two-step process is pushing the envelope of pig farm sterilization techniques."