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Disease transmission from nature and environment

Presence of disease-causing bacteria, virus and parasites in the environment may be a source of infection for humans and animals. Transmission from the environment to a susceptible host may occur via insects or by ingestion of contaminated soil, water and feed/food.

Many disease-causing agents are known to be zoonotic and the environment may therefore act as a potential transmission route not only within species but also between species. SVA aim to reduce the biosecurity risk when biowaste such as manure, sewage sludge and food scrapes are recycled to arable land.

We also aim to increase our understanding of the presence, spread and persistence of disease agents in the environment and how this is influenced from structural/technical, environmental and climate changes.

Reindeer are sensitive to changes in climate and environment.
Reindeer are sensitive to changes in climate and environment. Photo: Ann Albihn/SVA

Insects and tics may act as vectors

Knowledge about the geographical abundance of different species is central since insects and ticks may act as vectors and transmit disease agents between species and individuals. Small rodents, birds and other animals may act as reservoirs for disease agents. Grassing animals or humans present in the nature may also be directly exposed to pathogens.

Flooding events may increase infections

Water-borne infections may increase after flooding events when water sources get contaminated. Climate change effects ecosystems, animals as well as water and therefore also the risk for disease transmission. Ongoing projects focus e.g. on the presence and spread of vectors and reservoir animals, the consequences on animal health in the north, diagnostics of “climate sensitive diseases” as well as climate change effects on water and feedstuff.

Disease prevention and control are central issues for SVA. Suitable handling and treatment of biowaste to be recycled will reduce the biosecurity risk. The efficiency on the survival of diseases agents in the end product from different treatment processes is evaluated as well as the persistence of disease agents in soil and water.

Risk reducing measures

Composting, anaerobic digestion, urea- or lime treatment are examples of processes of interest to be used as risk-reducing measures. Studies are performed in the laboratory or at pilot and/or full-scale studies. Also done are calculating and validating risks for pathogen persistence and spread od infectious diseases.

Contact us

Ann Albihn, associate professor

Josefine Elving, researcher

Anna Omazic, researcher

Read more

BONUS PROMISE project (pdf)

CLINF project (pdf)

Last updated : 2020-01-13