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Secondary Disease Transmission Modeling for Pathogens in Drinking Water

Petterson, Lynne
EPA Office of Research and Development
Start date
End date
To develop quantitative models of human disease transmission dynamics following exposures to waterborne pathogens. The modeling efforts from this research could contribute to the assessment of human risk from waterborne infectious agents that can be contracted by both primary exposure (e.g. ingestion of contaminated drinking water) and secondary (person-to-person) transmission. Both general and pathogen specific models will be developed.
In 1999, the USEPA established cooperative agreements with two University research groups to investigate the contribution of person-to-person (secondary) transmission of infectious diseases that are typically considered to be waterborne in that exposure to the causative pathogens is primarily due to ingestion of or contact with contaminated water. This secondary transmission research was undertaken to better understand the roles primary and secondary transmission play in disease spread and disease outcomes in the general population and subpopulations. The disease transmission framework and models developed will help characterize the dynamics of disease transmission within populations and the roles humans and the environment play in maintaining and spreading disease. Additionally, transmission dynamic models will shed some light on the transformation of endemic disease levels to epidemic or outbreak levels, and, finally, they will allow predictions of disease risks in specific populations or in specific waterways and support recommendations for specific water treatment interventions. The applicability of the models will be better understood as the methods are tested through use.
Project number
Bacterial Pathogens
Sanitation and Quality Standards