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Social media, DNA typing help identify source of foodborne strep outbreak
Date:7/17/2013

[EMBARGOED FOR JULY 18, 2013] Facebook posts helped alert public health officials to a strep throat outbreak among a high school dance team in 2012, and DNA fingerprinting led investigators to pasta prepared by a previously ill parent as the likely source. Although strep throat, or Group A Streptococcus (GAS) pharyngitis, usually spreads from person to person by droplets, foodborne transmission is possible, as a report published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases found. The most common form of GAS illness is strep throat, but some cases can have more severe consequences.

Among 63 people who consumed food at a Minnesota high school dance team banquet, 18 came down with strep throat less than three days later. When multiple posts soon appeared on the team's Facebook page about ill dance team members and relatives, a parent contacted the state health department.

After interviewing approximately 100 people by telephonethose who attended the banquet, household contacts of attendees, and those who did not attend but ate banquet leftoversand conducting DNA typing of bacterial strains isolated from those who became ill, lead report author Sarah Kemble, MD, and her team of investigators at the Minnesota Department of Health narrowed the possible source of the outbreak to cooked pasta served at the banquet.

The DNA fingerprints of the strep bacteria isolated from the throats of those who became ill matched those of the bacteria identified in the pasta. In addition, one person who became ill and did not attend the banquet, but who ate some of the leftover pasta brought home by family members who did attend, helped confirm how the bacteria was transmitted. This person had a laboratory-confirmed GAS infection that matched the same DNA fingerprint pattern. No one else in the household had symptoms of strep throat, and throat swabs on all the other household members were negative for the bacteria.

"We suspect cooked food was c
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Contact: Jerica Pitts
jpitts@pcipr.com
312-558-1770
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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