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New test can precisely pinpoint food pathogens
Date:10/25/2011

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Other connected cases suggested smaller outbreaks of which officials had been previously unaware.

"The use of genome sequencing methods to investigate outbreaks of food-borne bacterial diseases is relatively new, and holds great promise as it can help to identify the temporal, geographical and evolutionary origin of an outbreak," Wiedmann said. "In particular, full genome sequence data may help to identify small outbreaks that may not be easily detected with lower resolution subtyping approaches."

Wiedmann, research associate Henk den Bakker and other lab members developed the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) test that is specific to the 2009 pepper-associated outbreak with the help of researchers at Life Technologies Corp. They also collaborated with researchers at Washington State University and departments of health in New York City and New York state.

A similar approach has previously been used in hospital settings to trace pathogenic bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, but this is its first application for food-borne illness. Wiedmann said he is continuing to perfect the method and use it to test other types of bacteria. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other agencies are also starting to use similar approaches.
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Contact: Joe Schwartz
Joe.Schwartz@cornell.edu
607-254-6235
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

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