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Novel sampling method for assessing human-pathogen interactions in the natural environment using boot socks and citizen scientists, with application to Campylobacter seasonality

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stephen Rushton

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

© 2017 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved. This paper introduces a novel method for sampling pathogens in natural environments. It uses fabric boot socks worn over walkers' shoes to allow the collection of composite samples over large areas. Wide-area sampling is better suited to studies focusing on human exposure to pathogens (e.g., recreational walking). This sampling method is implemented using a citizen science approach: groups of three walkers wearing boot socks undertook one of six routes, 40 times over 16 months in the North West (NW) and East Anglian (EA) regions of England. To validate this methodology, we report the successful implementation of this citizen science approach, the observation that Campylobacter bacteria were detected on 47% of boot socks, and the observation that multiple boot socks from individual walks produced consistent results. The findings indicate higher Campylobacter levels in the livestock-dominated NW than in EA (55.8% versus 38.6%). Seasonal differences in the presence of Campylobacter bacteria were found between the regions, with indications of winter peaks in both regions but a spring peak in the NW. The presence of Campylobacter bacteria on boot socks was negatively associated with ambient temperature (P = 0.011) and positively associated with precipitation (P < 0.001), results consistent with our understanding of Campylobacter survival and the probability of material adhering to boot socks. Campylobacter jejuni was the predominant species found; Campylobacter coli was largely restricted to the livestock-dominated NW. Source attribution analysis indicated that the potential source of C. jejuni was predominantly sheep in the NW and wild birds in EA but did not differ between peak and nonpeak periods of human incidence.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Jones NR, Millman C, van der Es M, Hukelova M, Forbes KJ, Glover C, Haldenby S, Hunter PR, Jackson K, O'Brien SJ, Rigby D, Strachan NJC, Williams N, Lake IR, O'Brien S, Christley R, Hertz-Fowler C, Wigley P, Winstanley C, Diggle P, Lake I, Hiscock K, Hunter P, Forbes K, Strachan N, Griffith R, Cross P, Rushton S, Humphrey T, Bennett M, Howard D, Wren B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Year: 2017

Volume: 83

Issue: 14

Print publication date: 01/07/2017

Online publication date: 12/05/2017

Acceptance date: 06/04/2017

ISSN (print): 0099-2240

ISSN (electronic): 1098-5336

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology

URL: https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00162-17

DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00162-17


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