Friday, July 22, 2016

State Lab Improves Foodborne Illness Surveillance

Maine CDC's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) is a member of PulseNet, a national laboratory network that connects foodborne illness cases to detect outbreaks from people eating contaminated food. Since the network began in 1996, PulseNet has improved food safety systems in Maine by identifying outbreaks early and identifying the source of the contaminated food. This network is changing the test methods used to identify outbreaks. 

Through two U.S. CDC grants, the HETL has been able to upgrade its equipment and protocols to allow for the lab to conduct this next-generation DNA fingerprinting, known as ‘whole genome sequencing.’  This method allows the HETL to increase surveillance of antibiotic and antiviral resistance mechanisms, identify rare bacteria and viruses and increase foodborne illness surveillance.  

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