Prior to joining the Robens Centre for Public and Environmental Health in 1996 Dr Katherine Pond worked for four years as co-ordinator of a national coastal pollution project.
She spent a 2-year secondment at the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health, Rome where she worked in the Water and Sanitation Unit.
Since returning to the University she has acted as a WHO Temporary Advisory on a number of contracts providing technical and administrative support and training in the field of water quality monitoring and human health and in the development of environmental health indicators.
My current research interests include the optimization of swimming pool design to reduce operational costs and develop energy efficient systems. Building-related energy use is an increasing concern for the aquatic leisure industry, with the national carbon reduction targets almost certain to affect the leisure industry. This research programme is tackling these design challenges from the perspective of an integrated building, chemical and pathogen control perspective.
I am also interested in the impact of climate change on water and sanitation systems.
Currently collaborating with Defra and Surrey Sports Park Ltd to look at design challenges of swimming pools from a health and energy conservation perspective.
Collaborating with Dr Sotoris Moschoyiannis (Department of Computing and Mathematics) and Dr Katrina Charles to investigate whether probabilistic modelling can be used in drinking water standards (funded through MILES).
University roles and responsibilities
- Admissions Officer, Undergraduate Civil Engineering
I am particularly interested in improving the quality of small water supplies. I am currently working with the World Health Organisation and supervising a PhD student to revise the risk assessment approach used to identify potential contamination to these supplies.
Module leader Regulation and Management - ENGM040 - MSc Water and Environmental Engineering
Our study revealed a number of lessons for pool operators, designers and policy makers: disinfection reaches the majority of a full scale pool in approximately 16 minutes operating at the maximum permissible inlet velocity of 0.5m/s. This suggests that where a pool is designed to have 15 paired inlets it is capable of distributing disinfectant throughout the water body within an acceptable time frame.
However, the study also showed that the exchange rate of water is not uniform across the pool tank and that there is potential for areas of the pool tank to retain contaminated water for significant periods of time. ?Dead spots? exist at either end of the pool where pathogens could remain. This is particularly significant if there is a faecal release into the pool by bathers infected with Cryptosporidium parvum, increasing the potential for waterborne disease transmission.
Methods Scientific and grey literature were searched for articles about any African filovirus. Articles were screened for information about transmission (prevalence or odds ratios especially). Data were extracted from eligible articles and summarised narratively with partial meta-analysis. Study quality was also evaluated.
Results 31 reports were selected from 6552 found in the initial search. Eight papers gave numerical odds for contracting filovirus illness, 23 further articles provided supporting anecdotal observations about how transmission probably occurred for individuals. Many forms of contact (conversation, sharing a meal, sharing a bed, direct or indirect touching) were unlikely to result in disease transmission during incubation or early illness. Amongst household contacts who reported directly touching a case, the attack rate was 32% (95% CI 26-38%). Risk of disease transmission between household members without direct contact was low (1%; 95% CI 0-5%). Caring for a case in the community, especially until death, and participation in traditional funeral rites were strongly associated with acquiring disease, probably due to a high degree of direct physical contact with case or cadaver.
Conclusions Transmission of filovirus is unlikely except through close contact, especially during the most severe stages of acute illness. More data are needed about the context, intimacy and timing of contact required to raise the odds of disease transmission. Risk factors specific to urban settings may need to be determined.
those concerned with issues related to water quality and health, including
environmental and public health scientists, water scientists, policy-makers and
Rapid Systematic Review, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 10 (2) Public Library of Science
transmission within urban environments and thousands of survivors. In 2014 the World
Health Organization stated that there was insufficient evidence to give definitive
guidance about which body fluids are infectious and when they pose a risk to humans.
We report a rapid systematic review of published evidence on the presence of
filoviruses in body fluids of infected people and survivors.
Methods: Scientific articles were screened for information about filovirus in human
body fluids. The aim was to find primary data that suggested high likelihood of actively
infectious filovirus in human body fluids (viral RNA). Eligible infections were from
Marburg virus (MARV or RAVV) and Zaire, Sudan, Taï Forest and Bundibugyo species
of Ebola.  Cause of infection had to be laboratory confirmed (in practice either tissue
culture or RT-PCR tests), or evidenced by compatible clinical history with subsequent
positivity for filovirus antibodies or inflammatory factors. Data were extracted and
Results: 6831 unique articles were found, and after screening, 33 studies were eligible.
For most body fluid types there were insufficient patients to draw strong conclusions,
and prevalence of positivity was highly variable. Body fluids taken >16 days after onset
were usually negative. In the six studies that used both assay methods RT-PCR tests
for filovirus RNA gave positive results about 4 times more often than tissue culture.
Conclusions: Filovirus was reported in most types of body fluid, but not in every sample
from every otherwise confirmed patient. Apart from semen, most non-blood, RT-PCR
positive samples are likely to be culture negative and so possibly of low infectious risk.
Nevertheless, it is not apparent how relatively infectious many body fluids are during or
after illness, even when culture-positive, not least because most test results come from
more severe cases. Contact with blood and blood-stained body fluids remains the major risk for disease transmission because of the known high viral loads in blood.
Methods: This research utilises the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) framework: an ideal tool for this scenario as it is low-cost, fit-for-purpose and encourages interdisciplinary expertise whilst enabling generation of evidence-based recommendations. This work builds upon the successes of Water Safety Plans, which have been applied in over 70 countries, utilizing the HACCP framework to improve regulation and safe management of drinking-water supplies to reduce risks of waterborne diseases.
Findings: We identify practices associated with health care and faecal waste disposal which present unacceptable risk levels for potential EBOV transmission, as well as other blood-borne or faecal-oral diseases such as respectively, hepatitis and cholera. We make recommendations, based-on existing evidence, for strategies which can reduce and mitigate transmission-risks. These strategies, in turn, will reduce the threat to human health, the burden on health services and the pressure on national/regional economies.
Conclusion: This assessment provides compelling evidence that HACCP assessments have strong potential as a tool to rapidly respond to emerging infectious disease outbreaks.
Health data in low- and middle-income countries are often inconsistent and of poor quality, or simply non-existent. This impedes the ability of countries themselves and the international community to arrive at a precise understanding of national burden of disease patterns. The sophisticated statistical modeling and projection methods used internationally to compensate for missing country data cannot provide more than ?best estimates,? with no possibility of verifying their outputs. The result is continuing unnecessary morbidity and mortality, often in children under five years of age, as data deficiency translates into insufficient information to guide policy and technical interventions, and to enable prioritization in resource dissemination.
This research therefore aims to assess the quality and quantity of data available at country level for the purpose of estimating the burden of disease. It highlights the frequently weak and fragmented nature of what data is present, together with capacity deficiencies at both institutional and individual level to gather, analyse and interpret health and related data. A particular focus is placed on assessing the burden of disease attributable to environmental risk factors, specifically for unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene, together with those elements of malnutrition deriving directly from these factors. Combining these two sets of risk factors to derive estimates of their burden of disease at country level is a new approach and not yet undertaken by countries.
Case-study is the central method used. Two country cases (Uganda and Mozambique) were selected by convenience sampling as WHO missions on related topics were taking place at this time. Detailed information on institutional and individual data understanding and capacity was obtained through semi-structured interviews. Extensive evaluation or assessment of existing data and internationally applied methodologies has also been carried out to demonstrate the extent and impact of the present data weakness and paucity that form the rationale for carrying out this work. Other cases have been used to demonstrate the synthesis of water, sanitation and hygiene statistics and methods with those of malnutrition.
Enabling a move from globally generated estimates based on limited national data in which country users have little confidence, to better quality and reliable statistics based on stronger national data is the root of this study. Having clarified the health impacts of data deficiency, its principal contribution is the development and testing of a tool to overcome these deficiencies, offering country users a way to radically improve their national data systems.
A prototype National Burden of Disease (NBD) Toolkit had earlier been developed by WHO but had operational weaknesses and hence poor uptake by countries. Moving from problem analysis to problem solving, this study has devised a method of linking the various spreadsheets comprising the NBD, creating a logical, simplified, and systematic interface between its elements and thereby making it easier and more appealing to the user. The tool, with its user-friendly interface, can thus now become a suitable support to national-level burden of disease estimation work, and contribute to creating further awareness of the value of timely data and their role in health development.
The present scope of work with the tool and interface fills a pressing gap, yet is limited. Further testing in a wider range of countries in different geographic regions is needed. Nonetheless, the initial results and growing uptake give confidence that this and similar future approaches will fall on fertile ground. As country-level institutions become more accustomed to using tools of this kind to fill long-standing data gaps and quality issues, it can be anticipated that they will feel greater confidence in their own data, reduced reliance on internationally-generated