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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2006 Spring;3(1):9-19.

PulseNet USA: a five-year update.

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Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30033, USA.


PulseNet USA is the molecular surveillance network for foodborne infections in the United States. Since its inception in 1996, it has been instrumental in detection, investigation and control of numerous outbreaks caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:[H7] (STEC O157), Salmonella enterica, Listeria monocytogenes, Shigella spp., and Campylobacter. This paper describes the current status of the network, including the methodologies used and its future possibilities. The currently preferred subtyping method in the network is pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), a proven highly discriminatory molecular subtyping method. New simpler sequencebased subtyping methods are under development and validation to complement and eventually replace PFGE. PulseNet is essentially a cluster detection network, but the data in the system will now also be used in attribution analyses of sporadic infections. The PulseNet platform will also be used as a primary tool in preparedness and response to acts of food bioterrorism.

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