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DH funds school infection control research

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An investigation into how infection control can be improved in schools is receiving partial funding from the Department of Health.

The Department of Health is sponsoring a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) along with the Technology Strategy Board and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which will appoint a postgraduate microbiologist to transfer knowledge on how infection control can be improved in schools, hospitals and other public places.

Dr Ron Cutler, deputy head of biomedical science, who will supervise the 30 month post in the School of Biology and Chemical Sciences, explained: “Infection threats to schools are influenced in part by external changes, such as increased international travel, antibiotic misuse and resistance to antibiotics. Climate change may also be the catalyst for increasing levels of sickness and more unpredictable infection threats in the future. This recent appointment will go a long way to helping us provide schools with the scientific insight and guidance which they need.”

Problems facing schools include how to combat cross contamination from high risk areas such as washrooms and kitchens, how to reduce cross contamination between users, and how to quanitfy best practice. There is also the question of whether educating pupils in responsible hand hygiene coupled with regular use of accessible hand cleaning facilities will reduce contracted infections and improve pupil attendance.

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