​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Man pipettes in a hoodAPHL is working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)​ ​and partners in clinical and public health laboratories to maintain effective enteric disease surveillance systems as culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) ​and other new testing technologies advance.

How does culture-independent testing effect public health surveillance?

Advances in technology are making clinical diagnosis and patient management of foodborne illnesses more rapid than ever before. These new diagnostic tests eliminate the need to culture organisms for the diagnosis of patient illnesses. While this is highly beneficial to patient care, surveillance systems such as PulseNet, which utilize isolates as the basis of their national and international surveillance programs, will no longer be able to detect foodborne outbreaks in the population.

APHL and CDC are monitoring the expansion of culture independ​ent diagnostics into clinical and public health laboratories. A 2020 CDC report describes the uptake of CIDTs in clinical laboratories through the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet). For longer term solutions, CDC has undertaken applied research to adapt our surveillance systems for foodborne pathogens to accommodate changes resulting from increased use of these new culture independent diagnostic tests.

​What is APHL doing to assist public health labs to adopt culture-independent methods?

APHL, CDC and many other stakeholders are participating in a number of working groups to address the regulatory, surveillance, and technological issues associated with culture independent diagnostics test implementation within clinical and public health laboratories. These working groups include the APHL CID Subcommittee and other CDC work groups. APHL published a ​CIDT fact ​sheet describing the use of CIDTs and their impact on isolate-based surveillance programs like PulseNet.