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Transient models to assess transmission and control of airborne infection risks in a respiratory ward

Academic lead
Cath Noakes (Civil Engineering)
Industrial lead
Ian Clifton, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Martín López-García (Mathematics), Marco Felipe-King (Civil Engineering), Louise Fletcher (Civil Engineering), Daniel Peckham (Medicine)
Project themes
Bio-Engineering/Medical Fluid Flows, Environmental Flows

This project aims to develop new models to simulate the risk of airborne infection in healthcare environments and the effectiveness of control strategies. Airborne infection is a serious concern for respiratory infections such as tuberculosis and influenza and opportunist pathogens in hospitals. Quantifying risks enables appropriate control strategies, both in terms of engineering approaches such as ventilation, and management strategies such as treating, locating and scheduling hospital patients. However airborne transmission is complex and requires understanding of the airflows, infection dynamics and human-environment interactions.  

The project will focus on transient effects in both time and space to evaluate how short term events and exposures can influence individual risk and the overall dynamics of a disease outbreak. We will combine transient airflow models from Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations with stochastic infection dynamics models to develop new models capable of properly evaluating transient behaviour. The models will be applied to the respiratory wards at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, to evaluate intervention strategies, including application of air cleaning devices. The project is predominately modelling based, but may include some environmental sampling for microorganisms in a healthcare environment. The project is aligned to a larger EPSRC project, Hospital Environment Control, Optimisation and Infection Risk Assessment.