Places: elucidating the role of environment in gastrointestinal disease outbreaks

Places Theme - Hospital ImageThe overall aim of this theme is to determine the contribution of environmental contamination, human be-haviour, and host risk factors on the success of noroviruses, the commonest cause of outbreaks and spo-radic cases of gastroenteritis in the UK population. This is essential in order to design effective interventions for the prevention and control of outbreaks in acute and community health and social care settings.

We are taking an holistic approach to build on the current standard national surveillance. Our studies will focus specifically on the movement and mixing between staff, patients and visitors and their interactions with the hospital environment to provide insight into risk behaviours leading to outbreaks. By linking interaction patterns with the distribution of contamination in the hospital environment we aim to identify risk factors that lead to the spread of norovirus infections in healthcare, which will then feed into the design of specific interventions for the prevention of norovirus outbreaks.

We intend to extend our studies to investigate host-associated factors that impact on susceptibility to infection, disease and/or potential for spread among inpatients. In particular we will investigate whether patterns of microbiota composition are associated with increased susceptibility. We will also investigate other host-related risk factors such as blood group and secretor status, known to have a role on susceptibility to norovirus infection in a strain-specific manner, co-morbidities and ongoing treatment with statins, as recent evidence shows they can increase norovirus pathogenicity and reduce the infectious dose required to cause disease in animal models.

Theme Leaders:

Miren

Professor Miren Iturriza-Gómara

Professor in Virology, University of Liverpool

David James Allen 

Dr David James Allen

Head, Enteric Virus Unit, Virus Reference Department, Public Health England