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Peer Review

American Anthrax Outbreak of 2001

by Ralph Frerichs


Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Nov 16, 2004 by Health Sciences
Overview: Dr. Ralph R. Frerichs of the Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public
Health, presents and interprets facts related to the American anthrax outbreak
of 2001. Roles of epidemiological and criminal investigations are compared and
contrasted to set the stage for presenting the epidemiologists' or "disease
detectives" roles in investigating disease outbreaks. This resource contains
many links that provide data supporting the narrative; excellent site
organization promotes logical movement through the material and provides
unencumbered access to the data. This site could be viewed as an 'online' or
'virtual poster session.'In addition one-touch access to CDC updates, morbidity/mortality data are available.
Learning Goals: To understand the American Anthrax outbreak of 2001 from the perspective of public health disease detectives and FBI criminal detectives. To assist the
learner with a community focused understanding of Anthrax at all levels of
prevention. Because of this site's organization, a secondary goal could be to provide users with a template for presenting data and research conclusions.
Target Student Population: Health care professionals with an emphasis on epidemiology. Public health
clinicians, including health educators, nurses, general practitioners.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: The Flesch-Kincaid readability rating for the Introduction is Grade 12.0,
suggesting that the user's vocabulary and comprehension be at the upper high
school through higher education and beyond levels in order to gain maximum
benefit from the site. Medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and community heath knowledge are required to navigate this site.
Type of Material: The Disease Detective site presents clinical, epidemiologic, and media
information on the 23 cases (19 confirmed, 4 suspect), including the one
accidental laboratory case, which comprised the American anthrax outbreak of
2001. Included are graphs that disease detectives create to focus attention on
the likely web of disease causation. While sources are usually cited,
responsibility for content and presentation lies with Professor R.R. Frerichs.In addtion This material relies heavily on reading. Very few graphics are included in the material. Visual learners would have difficulty with this type of instruction, therefore, this site would need to be complemented with in-class theory and facilitated problem-based learning activities.
Recommended Uses: this material as a resource for currently licensed health care
professionals as a source of life-long learning/professional development. In
addition, students in community health/epidemiology courses would benefit from
this site. The site provides a source for quickly locating essential
literature, CDC guidelines, anthrax case studies, and data.The resource could also be used for learning about disease outbreaks, epidemics, and
pandemics in general.
Technical Requirements: access to the internet

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The content quality is excellent; data are provided to support the narrative, and sources are given for further reading about the topic. The author provides contact information; the site was last updated in June of 2003.
Concerns: Not interractive, few pictures/diagrams. Novices and visual learners would have difficulty connecting with the information and integrating into internal memory.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: Several uses as a teaching tool exist: information about anthrax; information about disease outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics. This site allows the learner to make most efficient use of their study time through it?s content and ease of navigation. Comprehensive written data on the topic.
Concerns: As a teaching tool, this site could potentially stand alone for currently
licensed health care professionals. For undergraduate students, this site coule
not stand alone as a teaching tool. Visual learners would have difficulty with
this learning modality. Educators must ask: What will help learners integrate
the new knowledge into practice? and design adjunct teaching tools to assist
with delivery of material.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The site's organization is user-friendly by displaying major links on the
primary page, and incorporating links that support the narrative within the body
of the page
Concerns: More visuals to engage the learner on multiple domains.

Other Issues and Comments: The strength of this site lies in both its content and organization; it is an example of excellent use of the Internet to present information.