Environmental transmission of waterborne pathogens 

Waterborne pathogens are a threat to global human health. In resource constrained settings, diarrheal illness is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality due to lack of access to adequate safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, and hygiene. In the U.S., waterborne pathogens pose an emerging risk to public health as climate change increases the stress on aging water and sanitation infrastructure. The global spread of antimicrobial resistance further compounds this threat and will severely limit our ability to respond to infections. The Fuhrmeister Lab aims to understand transmission of pathogens through the environment and how antimicrobial resistance proliferates in order to develop adequate barriers at local and global scales. 

Zoonotic Transmission of Enteric Pathogens and Antimicrobial Resistance

We are interested in how enteric pathogens and antimicrobial resistance can transfer between humans and animals through environmental pathways (soil, food, water, hands). In low-and middle-income countries, lack of access to adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) provisions exacerbates transmission since no barriers are present to prevent spread. We aim to understand how zoonotic pathogens and AMR move between hosts, at the molecular level, to inform targeted intervention strategies in order to improve community health. 

Sequencing of Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Municipal Wastewater

There is a need to characterize antibiotic resistance proliferation in the environment. Through molecular methods and sequencing, antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) can be quantified and characterized. However, current metagenomic sequencing methods bias toward highly abundant ARGs and low abundant ARGs with clinical significance are overlooked. We are developing targeted sequencing methods to investigate highly accurate, full-length ARG sequences in wastewater. We can characterize ARG allele-level diversity and emergence at the population level.

One Health Approaches to Antimicrobial Stewardship

Antimicrobial Resistant (AR) Infections are a pressing issue that transcends the boundaries of human, animal, and environmental health, demanding comprehensive One Health solutions. We are leveraging partnerships in human and animal medicine to collect data on antimicrobial usage tendencies and resistance patterns. Using the collected data, we are identifying barriers to antimicrobial stewardship and developing programs to address these obstacles. Our collective approach extends to veterinarians and non-medical audiences, emphasizing the importance of inclusion of multiple stakeholders to address AMR.