I have the privilege to speak before the Annual Meeting of PulseNet in Chicago in a few weeks. As some may know, PulseNet is a national network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The network consists of: state health departments, local health departments, and federal agencies (CDC, USDA/FSIS, FDA).

Fig-1-pulsenet_logos.gifPulseNet participants perform standardized molecular subtyping (or “fingerprinting”) of foodborne disease-causing bacteria by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). PFGE can be used to distinguish strains of organisms such as Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Shigella, Listeria, or Campylobacter at the DNA level. DNA “fingerprints,” or patterns, are submitted electronically to a dynamic database at the CDC. These databases are available on-demand to participants—this allows for rapid comparison of the patterns.

Its Objectives are:

  • Detect foodborne disease case clusters by PFGE
  • Allow for real-time communication among state, local health departments, and international partners
  • Facilitate early identification of common source outbreaks
  • Help food regulatory agencies identify areas where implementation of new measures are likely to increase the safety of our food supply