By the beginning of the 1990’s, Pulsed-Field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) had become the gold standard for subtyping of bacterial pathogens and was increasingly used by the Central Reference Laboratory at the Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for investigations of outbreaks of bacterial foodborne disease. An increasing number of outbreaks, especially of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157, were being investigated and it became impossible for the CDC laboratory to subtype all strains received in real-time,.which slowed down the investigations. It was therefore decided.to decentralize subtyping activities for foodborne pathogens to where the outbreaks were occurring: the states. This decentralization signaled the birth of PulseNet USA in 1996.
Established in 1996, PulseNet USA, is the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance. It is coordinated by CDC and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL). It now has more than 70 participants including state and local public health departments, federal food regulatory agency laboratories, as well as agricultural and veterinary laboratories. Since its inception, PulseNet USA has become an indispensible part of the surveillance of foodborne infections in the United States by facilitating the detection and investigation of outbreaks, as well as the confirmation of their source,
Before a participant is allowed to submit data to PulseNet, he/she must be trained and certified. Since 1996, more than 400 participants have been trained in the PulseNet subtyping protocols, and the use of the PulseNet customized software, BioNumerics (Applied Maths, Sint-Martens-Latem,,Belgium) for data analysis
As of January 2008, the national database contained approximately 500,000 entries. The Salmonella database has reached over 180,000 entries; E. coli and Shigella each have over 30,000 entries. Databases also exist for Listeria monocytogenes,Campylobacter, Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Yersinia pestis.
For further information please contact:
Peter Gerner-Smidt, PulseNet USA.
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