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Exploring the environmental connection between cattle and human EHEC cases

Published 2017-03-01

This proposal concerns zoonotic verocytotoxin producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) in cattle and its association with human cases of Enterohaemorrhagic colitis (EHEC), a potentially fatal illness. The overall aim of this project is to extend and improve our possibilities to reduce the number of serious cases of EHEC in humans attributed to cattle.

Five Swedish governmental agencies recently published a strategy document containing a plan to reduce the risk of domestic EHEC cases. This project takes its motivation from the published list of knowledge gaps, namely, (i) the source of infection in sporadic human EHEC cases, (ii) the epidemiology at the level of individual holdings, and (iii) the most cost-effective surveillance and control approach.

Specifically, within the project we will: A) develop a simulation model which includes the transmission of infectious pressure between neighboring cattle farms to capture the effect of the environmental load of VTEC generated by cattle, B) with a model for the VTEC infection dynamics in the cattle population, we will explore the relationship between human sporadic EHEC cases and cattle by statistical analysis and C) evaluate control strategies in the cattle population and the effect in incidence of human EHEC cases, and we will propose competitive alternatives.

The research group is composed of a multidisciplinary team with complementary expertise in human and veterinary epidemiology, statistics and mathematical modelling.