Dust Bunny

The Dust Bunny team is hosting a dissemination workshop in Ghana

Dust Bunny is a 2-year UK funded research project that applies innovative design research methods coupled with microbiological analyses to address issues of home-based infections in Ghana, particularly those carrying antimicrobial resistance, resulting in a reduction of infection and in positive increase of health outcomes.

In the first part of the workshop the Ghanaian (Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana) and UK (University of Lancaster) project team will be presenting the project, its initial findings as well as challenges and opportunities in this area.

In the second part of the workshop it will be inviting participants, through a number of creative and interactive activities, in sharing their feedback on the work thus far and help define future steps.

The workshop is scheduled for Wednesday 13th February 2019 at 09:30am – 14:30pm

Venue: Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana.

For more information on the event and to register contact Dr Dziedzom de Souza at ddesouza@noguchi.ug.edu.gh .

Dust sample collection for microbiological study starting soon

This project has a microbiological component which seeks to assess the extent of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria attached to dust in Ghanaian homes. This is a problem as resistance, if found in infectious bacteria, may hinder treatment of infectious disease. However it may be lurking in non-infectious bacteria as well. No problem? Well there is… this resistance might be mobile and transfer from non-infectious to infections bacteria.   So we are going to assess the extent of AMR in all the bacteria we can. No matter which environment we look at there are common microbiological problems: We can culture bacteria directly from dust and we can test them for their resistance or sensitivity to a range of antibiotics commonly used in the treatment of infectious disease.

The sting is the tail is we can only culture usually less than 1% of all the bacteria present. The remaining >99% cannot be cultured but are still active, they may contain infectious bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. So how do were find these unculturable microbes?

Two strategies can be adopted in addition to culture: one for identifying bacteria and the other for identifying AMR. Both involve taking a dust sample and extracting all DNA from all the attached bacteria. For bacteria we will use next generation sequencing which generates signatures of bacterial species from which we can identify and quantify (within limits) species and this will tell us about bacterial diversity in a number of homes. For AMR, we will detect the signatures of different genes that will tell us which antibiotic resistances are present.


By combining the sequencing and culturing we will obtain a picture of AMR is different households.

*Photo Credit: Dr. Graham Beards, CC BY-SA

Cleaning & hygiene practices survey nearly completed

The team at Noguchi have been running for the past month a survey on the hygiene and cleaning practices across different domestic environments (i.e. urban vs rural, private vs communal dwellings) and a range of social scales (i.e. low, low-middle, middle, upper) within Accra, Ghana.

Recruited household complete with the help of researchers a survey of over 50 questions. These include questions on the household demographics, the household configuration, dwelling information, the cleaning methods, cleaning items, cleaning frequency, cleaning responsibilities within the household, cleanliness and hygiene perceptions and practices.   So far over 200 surveys have been completed.

The team aims at collecting 250 surveys. From the 250 surveys 12 households (across urban and rural domestic environments, private and communal house environments, low, low-middle, middle and upper social scales) are currently being recruited to participate in the rapid ethnography phase of the project in order to collect more in-depth information  on the cleaning and hygiene practices. Dust samples from each study household will also be collected to assess bacterial diversity, including the presence of infectious bacteria and to assess the degree of AMR in those bacteria.

Dust Bunnies Workshop in Ghana: Outcomes Report

The co-design workshop run in Ghana in early February 2017 helped in establishing the research context, local challenge, research methodology and dissemination strategy for the Dust Bunny project. The key outcomes outlined below demonstrate several of the research activities and aspects this project now explores. For more details see the Dust Bunnies Workshop Report.

The key outcomes from the workshop suggested that dust is a health and infection issue, as it is a carrier for bacteria but also it can be used as a medium to monitor bacteria.

Given the scope of the indented research project and the resources available it was suggested to use vacuum cleaners as a medium of sampling dust in household which had one; and use other manual dust collection techniques in households with no access to a vacuum cleaner. A range of different cultural and common household hygiene practices exist. These are often affected and determined by the different houseful environments (urban versus rural) domestic dwellings (private versus communal) and different socio-economic scales (low, low-middle, middle, upper).

A range of benefits was identified for households participating in the study, including adoption of better hygiene practices, hygiene and health education, better health and health economic gains. A number of pathways to impact and dissemination effective and relevant to Ghana have been also identified.

Workshop on AMR and domestic hygiene practices in Ghana helps develop AHRC project

The co-design workshop run in Ghana in February 2017 helped in establishing the research context, local challenge, research methodology and dissemination strategy for a research bid targeting a relevant AHRC Call on AMR in Real World. This led to the successful development and funding of the Dust Bunny research project. The workshop also created a network of Ghanaian scientists and researchers interested in purposing further research in the AMR and health area.

The workshop was run by Lancaster University and held in Accra, Ghana at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research premises. It included several participants from across different areas of antimicrobial resistance, public health, environmental studies and sanitation.

Several of the areas explored during the workshop included:

  • The cultural and common hygiene practices across different household settings in rural and urban as well as a range of social scales in Ghana;
  • The most common bacterial diseases influenced by the home environment in Ghana;
  • The challenges of conducting research, accessing and recruiting household participants in Ghana and how to overcome them;
  • The benefits for household participants taking part in the study and how to enhance them;
  • The pathways to impact and best avenues for disseminating research findings in Ghana and West Africa.

Project Kick-Off

DustBunny has officially started with a project meeting held in early November. The research team is now in the processing of developing and pilot testing a survey on the hygiene practices in the home, which will be distributed to several households in Accra, Ghana.