Infectious diseases

At a glance

Using face masks to measure the infectiousness of tuberculosis

Lead researcher

Professor Veronica Ueckermann and Dr Caroline Williams


University of Pretoria and University of Leicester



Amount awarded


Last updated



Professor Veronica Ueckermann and Dr Caroline Williams are using face masks to capture exhaled bacteria among people with tuberculosis to investigate when patients are infectious to others.

Professor Veronica Ueckermann and Dr Caroline Williams Professor Veronica Ueckermann and Dr Caroline Williams

Some forms of TB have evolved to survive and resist antibiotic drugs – they are referred to as multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). This is an increasing global public health crisis - MDR-TB is the leading cause of death from antimicrobial resistance (AMR) globally.

The bacteria which causes tuberculosis (TB) is spread from person to person in exhaled breath. Currently assessing infectiousness of MDR-TB patients is complex and often requires multiple invasive tests with extended hospital stays.

This project uses a new way of capturing the exhaled bacteria using face masks worn by people with MDR-TB to understand when they are infectious to others.

Professor Ueckermann, from the University of Pretoria, and Dr Williams, from the University of Leicester, will bring together experts in public health, behavioural science, TB diagnosis and treatment to develop a lasting network of collaborative researchers in South Africa and the UK.

This project has been funded by the 2022 Dorothy Temple Cross International Collaboration Grant.

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