E. coli O157 in rural communities

Molecule bacteria lab cattle and landscape


Work Packages

WP 1a Stakeholder perceptions - led by Colin Hunter
Information is required on how risk is perceived within, and communicated to, key stakeholder groups in the rural environment in order to obtain a holistic appreciation and understanding of E. coli O157 risk and to produce effective policy recommendations. We also need to understand how perception of risk may be translated into mitigation behaviour. Currently, no substantive data exists on these features of E. coli O157risk.

Research Fellows Colette Jones (Aberdeen), Paul Cross and Prysor Williams (Bangor) coordinated collection of opinions from over 2,000 farming and non-farming rural residents, visitors and food workers in north Wales and Grampian in 2008. Read stakeholder views on Opinions & attitudes

WP 1b: Immunity of key groups - led by Davey Jones
Currently there is no comprehensive data on the levels of immunity and asymptomatic carriage in key groups of people (e.g. abattoir workers and farmers and their families) in the UK. One key aspect of this proposal is the hypothesis that individuals working with farm animals become immune and as a consequence have a very low perception of risk to this pathogen. This project will address this by taking immunological samples from cohorts of these groups. These data are essential not only for the social perceptions of risk but also to be incorporated into the risk assessment models to moderate the risk outputs for these key populations.

WP 2: Infectivity in the environment - led by Ken Forbes
It is well known that E. coli O157 can survive for extended periods in the environment but the subsequent effect on its infectivity is unknown – no data currently exist on this aspect. These data will be obtained during this project and will be essential when calculating the environmental risk to humans.

WP3: Risk assessment - led by Norval Strachan
Existing data will be collated describing spatial and temporal incidence in humans in the areas under study. In addition to this we already have agricultural census data on the current agricultural industry including data on farm animal densities, private water supplies etc. These data together with those obtained in the previous WP's will be used in disease mapping and risk assessment models.

WP4: Economic Impact- led by Jenny Roberts
This prospective study gathers data from new cases and ascertains the health status in the acute phase, community and hospital resources consumed, out of pocket expenses and loss of productivity of cases and carers. In our economic study of the Lothian 1994 outbreak we found that a quarter of cases were still suffering outcomes 12 months later. Thus we will follow up new cases a year after the acute episode. The sequelae have a profound impact on costs so a look back study or investigation of a cohort of cases that occurred ten years ago will establish long term impacts. Andreia Santos is currently coordinating the field work.

WP5: Social acceptance - led by Gareth Edwards-Jones
New data will be generated on the perceptions of food chain professionals, farmers, contractors and consumers towards a range of intervention methods aimed to reduce the risk arising from E. coli O157. These data are necessary as to date no other study has sought to capture any similar data. The data will be largely qualitative and are necessary to inform decision-makers at all levels about the acceptability of intervention strategies.

Work Package 6 Policy - led by John Farrington
A clear objective of this interdisciplinary research project is to provide policymakers and stakeholders with robust information to enable informed judgement of policy options to be made. This WP is designed to ensure that the progressive dissemination and assimilation of findings continues into policy making, and ultimately, practice.