Clinical infectious diseases epidemiology

The Clinical Infectious Disease Epidemiology research has continued working on tuberculosis, meningitis, respiratory infection and diarrhoea.

Work on TB has focused on improving the diagnosis of TB in children, and optimising the use and timing of smear microscopy in resource limited settings. Assessing the child's immunological responses to tuberculosis are an important part of this in order to distinguish current from latent infections.

Attempts have been made with Brian Coulter and Professor van der Stuyfft at the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp to develop a revised gold standard for diagnosis of active TB in children and adults, in collaboration with overseas partners in Nigeria and Brazil and the WHO. This includes approaches to completing all sputum smear microscopy tests in a single day in order to optimise rapid diagnosis of TB.

Other work on epidemic meningitis has focussed on developing mathematical models to predict the location and occurrence of epidemics in Sub-Saharan Africa, in close collaboration with Dr Madeleine Thomson. Models based on district level information and the pan-continental models were presented to the Meningitis Vaccine Project, and further maps are being developed with a view to guide vaccination activities in the future in order to improve meningitis outbreak control.

Work on rotavirus diarrhoea, including the description of the main genotypes affecting children with severe diarrhoea in Nepal and Brazil will aid in developing rotavirus immunisation programmes. Further work on respiratory viruses has identified new pathogens causing respiratory infections in children in developing countries.