Environmental virology

The focus in the department’s research efforts in environmental virology is on pathogenic human viruses that are transmitted via the environment and that can cause widespread epidemics. As habitation becomes increasingly dense and the environment changes, the risk of such viruses spreading is growing. Research increases understanding of the occurrence and tolerance of viruses in the environment.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased awareness of the role of viruses as pathogens of concern. Gastroenteric viruses, such as noroviruses, can persist infectious for long periods of time in the environment. The department is developing sensitive, tailored methods for identifying viruses in samples collected from the environment. Virus presence and transmission is studied using molecular genetic methods, for instance using various PCR-applications. Using model viruses in cell culture it is possible to uncover how long viruses persist infectivity in various conditions and environments, on indoor surfaces, in air, and water. These tools are used for finding solutions to curbing the environmental transmission of viruses. In the absence of effective drugs, other means, including hygiene, are of utmost importance in controlling the spread of viral diseases.