Purpose: The purpose of this work was to produce a citizen science interactive 'game' to be performed at a large international food safety conference, where attendees would participate in a mock norovirus outbreak that stemmed from one 'infected' person.
Methods: The infection was visibly and physically transmitted to other conference attendees using individually-numbered buttons (0-500) representing the virus. The button numbers as well as other data provided by the participants were used in standard epidemiological analyses to track and measure the scope of the outbreak, which is presented here for the educational benefit of the participants.
Results: Two hundred and forty-eight of the 500 buttons that were distributed returned to the distribution site to be recorded (49.6% response rate), and 88 people were responsible for transmitting the mock virus. Approximately one in seven attendees could have been infected, and on average, an infected person spread the virus to 2.48 other people.
Significance: Based on successful proof of concept, this interactive tool can be used by schools, exhibitors, and other educational groups to illustrate person-to-person transmission of infectious agents and the common formats for displaying and interpreting epidemiological data. Since the outbreak evolved based on the actions of the participants, each iteration of the exercise would be unique.