Novel Sampling Method for Assessing Human-Pathogen Interactions in the Natural Environment Using Boot Socks and Citizen Scientists, with Application to Campylobacter Seasonality

Natalia R. Jones, Caroline Millman, Mike van der Es, Miroslava Hukelova, Ken J. Forbes, Catherine Glover, Sam Haldenby, Paul R. Hunter, Kathryn Jackson, Sarah J. O'Brien, Dan Rigby, Norval J. C. Strachan, Nicola Williams, Iain R. Lake, ENIGMA Consortium

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Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00162-17
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume83
Issue number14
Early online date12 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Fingerprint

Walkers
Anglian
Campylobacter
Livestock
seasonality
pathogen
Shoes
pathogens
livestock
sampling
England
Walking
Birds
Sheep
source attribution
Observation
walking
sheep
Temperature
Incidence

Keywords

  • boot socks
  • Campylobacter
  • citizen science
  • environmental sampling

Cite this

Novel Sampling Method for Assessing Human-Pathogen Interactions in the Natural Environment Using Boot Socks and Citizen Scientists, with Application to Campylobacter Seasonality. / Jones, Natalia R.; Millman, Caroline; van der Es, Mike; Hukelova, Miroslava; Forbes, Ken J.; Glover, Catherine; Haldenby, Sam; Hunter, Paul R.; Jackson, Kathryn; O'Brien, Sarah J.; Rigby, Dan; Strachan, Norval J. C.; Williams, Nicola; Lake, Iain R.; ENIGMA Consortium.

In: Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Vol. 83, No. 14, e00162-17, 07.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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 & ENIGMA Consortium 2017, 'Novel Sampling Method for Assessing Human-Pathogen Interactions in the Natural Environment Using Boot Socks and Citizen Scientists, with Application to Campylobacter Seasonality', Applied and Environmental Microbiology, vol. 83, no. 14, e00162-17. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00162-17
Jones, Natalia R. ; Millman, Caroline ; van der Es, Mike ; Hukelova, Miroslava ; Forbes, Ken J. ; Glover, Catherine ; Haldenby, Sam ; Hunter, Paul R. ; Jackson, Kathryn ; O'Brien, Sarah J. ; Rigby, Dan ; Strachan, Norval J. C. ; Williams, Nicola ; Lake, Iain R. ; ENIGMA Consortium. / Novel Sampling Method for Assessing Human-Pathogen Interactions in the Natural Environment Using Boot Socks and Citizen Scientists, with Application to Campylobacter Seasonality. In: Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2017 ; Vol. 83, No. 14.
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abstract = "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.",
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AU - Glover, Catherine

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AU - Hunter, Paul R.

AU - Jackson, Kathryn

AU - O'Brien, Sarah J.

AU - Rigby, Dan

AU - Strachan, Norval J. C.

AU - Williams, Nicola

AU - Lake, Iain R.

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