Digital Public Defence: Susanne Hyllestad

MSc Susanne Hyllestad at Institute of Health and Society will be defending the thesis “Drinking water and public health: Prevention, detection and response to waterborne outbreaks in Norway” for the degree of PhD (Philosophiae Doctor).

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The public defence will be held as a video conference over Zoom.

The defence will follow regular procedure as far as possible, hence it will be open to the public and the audience can ask ex auditorio questions when invited to do so.

Click here to participate in the public defence

Download Zoom here

Due to copyright reasons, an electronic copy of the thesis must be ordered from the faculty. In order for the faculty to have time to process the order, it must be received by the faculty no later than 2 days prior to the public defence. Orders received later than 2 days before the defence will not be processed. Inquiries regarding the thesis after the public defence must be addressed to the candidate.

Digital Trial Lecture – time and place

See Digital Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Associate Professor Tarja Pitkänen, Helsinki University
  • Second opponent: Associate Professor Bård Flattun Lilleeng, University of Bergen
  • Third member and chair of the evaluation committee: Associate Professor Anja Brænd, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Associate Professor Anne Olaug Olsen, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Senior Consultant Preben Aavitsland, Norwegian Institute of Public Health


Access to safe drinking water is highly important for public health. In Norway, most people have access to reliable sources of drinking water and high-standard water supply and sanitation services. Despite precautionary actions, however, every year events implying a health risk occur in Norway, in addition to large waterborne outbreaks such as the Campylobacter-outbreak in Askøy in 2019. This outbreak is a strong reminder of the vulnerability of water supply systems. In this thesis, a multidisciplinary approach is used to meet the overall objective of preventing waterborne outbreaks by examining the risks in the water supply system, the early detection of waterborne outbreaks and public compliance with boil water advisories.  A specific concern can arguably be linked to an aging and vulnerable distribution system prone for contamination. In addition, changing climate parameters serve as stressors and induce critical events. In case of a contamination event evolving into a waterborne outbreak, there is no clear evidence that syndromic surveillance may serve as early detection, at least not for smaller and local waterborne outbreaks with an acute onset of illness. Public compliance with boil water advisories is affected by awareness and the perception of the severity of the situation; compliance is lower if the risk of illness is perceived as low. The findings demonstrate that preventive long-term precautionary actions and conducting risk-based surveillance of drinking water supplies are essential to limit societal consequences. Effective communication of health advice is also imperative to ensure high compliance. The findings adds to the knowledge of preventing, detecting and response to waterborne outbreaks in Norway, and contribute to putting emerging risks in the drinking water supply on the agenda.

Additional information

Contact the research support staff.

Published Oct. 8, 2021 11:07 AM - Last modified Oct. 25, 2021 12:12 PM