Public health responses

Public health responses

Effective responses to emerging infectious disease threats require integration of early warning and risk assessment systems with rapid mitigation and disease control strategies. Current methods are insensitive and lack resolution. Initial applications of whole genome sequencing to monitor hospital outbreaks of antimicrobial resisitant Klebsiella pneumonia and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus suggest that pathogen genomics can target infection control interventions to specific

locations (e.g. a ward or group of patients) making them more manageable for infection control teams. 

To substantially improve public health outcomes, we are focusing on interventions that target transmission “catalysts” (i.e. human behaviours and pathogen properties that promote the spread of disease). We are paying particular attention to new types of data that become available either

through high-resolution genomic and syndromic surveillance or contact networks captured by social media or geolocatable devices such as wearable sensors or smartphones. Integration and secure linkage of these data streams offer a powerful research platform to identify risk factors for disease transmission and test targeted interventions in real-life and simulated environments. 

Our researchers are integrated into disease control agencies in four states and territories. Our aim is to improve the quality, timeliness and accessibility of data by developing integrated systems to inform public health responses to outbreaks. Through integrated investigation of evolving outbreaks, this approach will also facilitate detection of new biothreats within clinically actionable timeframes.