Environmental Pathogens

Microbiology for the biomedical scientist comprises screening samples to identify and assess microbiological pathogens that cause disease and, enable front line medical staff to choose the correct therapy for successful eradication of the infection. Increasing numbers of these infections are community acquired and many are contracted from, or in, the environment. The environment therefore plays an increasing role in the life cycle and ecology of many pathogens. This in turn, is having an increasing impact on human health and national health services. The increase is a combination of changing environmental conditions (such as land use changes, global warming) and an ever evolving microbial community, most of which do not harm but a few can cause mild to fatal diseases when the opportunity arises.Also cycling in the environment are obligate pathogens which will cause infections if contracted.Furthermore, there are new diseases emerging (e.g. Ebola) and others thought to have been controlled are now re-emerging such as cholera.Using specific microbial pathogens as examples, this module examines the factors and interactions that allow microbial infections to be transmitted from the environment to humans and how their life cycle plays an important role in their emergence, persistence, transmission and infection.It also examines antibiotic resistance: how it has emerged, the different types of resistance, its management and the complications that it imposes on the treatment of these diseases. After attending this module you will still be able to go out into the natural environment but, as a result, you may be a little more cautious.

Assessment:

1. Exam: 2 hour paper with two questions in sections A and B and you are required to answer one question from each.

2. Coursework is an extended essay of 2000 words based on the lectures and field trip. The title will be announced in the first lecture.