Our research projects focus of microbial method development, risk assessment and characterization of fecal contamination in multipurpose watersheds.
Zoonoses at sheep pastures: the LAMMASLAIDUN project

Grazing is the base of lamb meat production and an efficient way to maintain endangered meadow biotopes. The benefits of grazing for the sheep industry and the animals are acknowledged, but the presence and spread of zoonotic pathogens through sheep feces have yet to be studied comprehensively. The project looks at zoonotic parasitic and bacterial infections in grazing sheep and the possibilities to decrease these infections. The aim is to produce knowledge on the exposure of the sheep to infectious microbes on pastures, as well as the runoff waters from the pastures, which may carry the zoonotic microbes to the environment. In addition, the project improves the preparedness of farmers and other operators in the industry to possibly intensifying demands on environmental load and ethics of animal production. Through scientific knowledge, the project works to keep the sheep industry productive, acceptable, and viable in the future. 

In this project, the Waterborne pathogens research group focuses on increasing the knowledge of different zoonotic pathogens in sheep pastures. We also analyze fecal samples from slaughterhouses. The presence of fecal microbes and zoonotic pathogens of ruminant origin (Cryptosporidium spp., Campylobacter spp., and liver flukes Fasciola hepatica and Dicrocoelium dendriticum) are studied from sheep pasture environments and sheep's drinking waters.

Coastal grazing for the benefit of nature and people: the RANTALAIDUN project

Grazing is the most important and efficient method to maintain seaside meadows, which are extremely endangered biotopes. The benefits of grazing for animal welfare and the endangered landscapes are widely acknowledged. However, concern has been raised about the hygienic effects of manure and the potential spread of intestinal pathogens through runoff water. The project looks at coastal grazing holistically from different perspectives, increasing knowledge of the effects of grazing on coastal biodiversity, water status, recreational use and industry. In addition, the project will improve farmers and their advisers’ knowledge of the factors affecting the profitability of coastal grazing. 

In this project, the Waterborne pathogens research group focuses on supplementing the knowledge of the impact of grazing livestock on the hygiene status of coastal waters and dispelling uncertainty concerning the hygienic impact on water resources from grazing. The presence of fecal microbes, as well as zoonotic pathogens of ruminant origin (Cryptosporidium spp., Campylobacter spp., and liver flukes Fasciola hepatica and Dicrocoelium dendriticum) are studied from the pastured environments and nearby waters. 

Wastewater-based surveillance as pandemic preparedness tool (WASTPAN)

The consortium project WastPan is a part of the Academy programme “Pandemics and other crises – responses and preparedness (2021 – 2023)”. In the project, the researchers from Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Tampere University and University of Helsinki develop preparedness tools for environmental surveillance of infectious agents and antimicrobial resistance genes circulating in the communities. 

Within WastPan, the Waterborne pathogens group aims to prevent multiple pathogens and multidrug resistant bacteria from causing human infections. The work focuses on optimizing methodology for simultaneous detection of bacterial, viral and protozoan pathogens and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes from untreated community wastewater. The project explores a wide variety of wastewater samples from different geographical areas and timepoints and estimates the functionality of wastewater as a source of population-level health data. The studies on genomic epidemiology of multidrug resistant food and waterborne pathogens Campylobacter and Salmonella and investigations of novel pathogens are part of the project tasks. 

Col­lab­or­at­ing research pro­jects

The research group members work at Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in the consortium research projects:

Cryptosporidiosis – an emerging zoonosis from cattle (KRYPTO: Cryptosporidiosis – an emerging zoonosis from cattle KRYPTO - Finnish Food Authority ( coordinated by Finnish Food Authority.

Häme region as a pioneer in the risk management of pathogens in watercourses (VAIR: What risks do intestinal pathogens pose to users of aquatic systems? | University of Helsinki) coordinated by Lammi Biological Station.