The International Outbreak Museum began in the office of Dr. Bill Keene in his early years investigating infectious disease outbreaks at the Oregon state health department. Bill realized early on that outbreak investigations are very public opportunities to teach large audiences about the kinds of foods and products that can become contaminated and cause widespread dissemination of disease. From one of the very first (and still the oldest) exhibits, an actual box of “Rely Tampons” that associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome and Staphylococcus aureus in 1978, to painstakingly reproduced products (like Sally Jackson artisanal raw milk cheese), the physical museum includes some pretty cool stuff. We’ve got bunches of restaurant menus, cans of contaminated leather spray, bottles of MRSA-contaminated tattoo ink and equipment, and packaging from many products that were recalled from the market because they caused outbreaks and made citizens sick.
The museum is part of The Northwest Center for Foodborne Outbreak Management, Epidemiology, and Surveillance (FOMES), a program that fosters the public health practice of foodborne and diarrheal disease surveillance and outbreak investigation. FOMES will be working to bring all of the physical IOM exhibits to digital life and feature them in their proper place on the web. Our hope is that Dr. Keene’s museum can be used to share the fascinating stories behind outbreak investigations. Please consider submitting information about your latest investigation (even if you didn’t find a smoking gun).
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