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Title: Investigation of in-hospital norovirus transmission using whole genome sequencing
Author: Wong, Tse Hua Nicholas
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 8701
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Norovirus is the commonest cause of viral gastroenteritis, affecting all age groups worldwide. Outbreaks frequently occur in semi-closed communities such as schools, cruise ships, prisons and hospitals. Within the healthcare environment, the economic and logistical burdens and the inconvenience caused by norovirus is significant, since ward closure remains central to infection control. The aim of this study was to investigate norovirus transmission dynamics during hospital outbreaks. The ultimate goal was to provide information that could, in future, lead to the development of novel, less disruptive approaches to curtailing the spread of infection. The study explored the application of 'next generation' high throughput DNA sequencing technologies to the determination of large numbers of norovirus genomes. Whole genome sequences provide the highest possible level of discrimination among viruses, information which is essential to the identification of linked and independent cases of infection. The approach exploits the high norovirus mutation rate, which is typical of RNA viruses. Consequently, viruses within a single ward which differ by more than a few SNVs can be considered to represent independent introductions, rather than a single outbreak. Whole genome sequence data (determined for noroviruses collected between 2009 and 2013) were combined with epidemiological data, providing further insights into transmission dynamics. These data identified multiple independent virus introductions during single ward outbreaks. The possible origin of such outbreaks in Oxfordshire hospitals were investigated using viruses originating in the local community, and in other healthcare environments distributed throughout the UK. Whole genome sequences of noroviruses from consecutive years were genetically divergent, confirming the rapid evolution of the virus over time and excluding the possibility of prolonged environmental contamination as a reservoir of infection. Such detailed information on norovirus transmission within the healthcare environment could inform alternative future approaches to optimising infection control within the healthcare setting.
Supervisor: Crook, Derrick; Peto, Timothy; Dingle, Kate Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medical Sciences ; Infectious diseases ; Viruses ; Norovirus ; calicivirus ; whole genome sequencing