Performing salmonella: valuing evidence and classifying genes in disease control

By Francis Lee, Uppsala University.

April 24, 2018, at 15:15-16:30, in room 5.0.22 at CSS, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, building 5

Centre for Medical Science and Technology Studies and the research group MeInWe, University of Copenhagen announces this seminar.

This paper explores how genetic evidence is valued, negotiated, and understood in disease surveillance. In doing so, it explores how the emergence of new genetic technologies lead to changes in theories about disease, risk, and contagion. Are new phenomena then seen as risky, normal, or deviant? In disease surveillance, the introduction of whole genome sequencing (WGS) has led to disparate cases of disease now being identified as part of larger disease outbreaks. For example, a case of salmonella in the UK can now be linked to other cases of salmonella across Europe—thus constituting a novel form of outbreak. A problem for disease surveillance is that there are no precedents for how to handle the knowledge emerging through whole genome sequencing. Dilemmas include: What constitutes a genetic relation? How much genetic likeness constitutes an outbreak? And how much genetic likeness is enough to impose legal measures? This development brings to the fore several questions related to the negotiation of new standards for evidence, professional judgement, and genetic classification. This paper explores these dilemmas through ongoing fieldwork at the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and more specifically through two recent European outbreaks of Salmonella.

Everybody is welcome!