PulseNet is the national molecular subtyping network designed to rapidly detect clusters of foodborne disease outbreaks, ensuring contaminated food products are quickly recalled.
PulseNet is vital to food safety. It facilitates the early detection, prevention and control of foodborne diseases by allowing scientists to compare the DNA fingerprinting profiles of bacteria from patients and contaminated food products. This enables them to detect and define clusters of bacterial foodborne pathogens, such as
Salmonella, Listeria and
E. coli O157, and identify the source of contamination.
Although PulseNet has historically used pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to identify pathogens, the network has shifted to next generation technologies, notably
whole genome sequencing (WGS). As part of this transition, APHL supports the involvement of PulseNet laboratories in CDC's
Listeria WGS Initiative and FDA's
Genome Trakr Network.
APHL's Role in PulseNet Surveillance
Public health laboratories are key members of PulseNet, as they conduct most of the testing that forms the backbone of the network's nationwide surveillance. Because of the central role of public health laboratories, APHL has been involved in the PulseNet Network since its formation in 1996, when it co-founded the Network with CDC. Over twenty years later, APHL continues to work with federal, state, local and international partners to create a globally integrated network in response to foodborne disease outbreaks.
APHL also supports development of the network's global arm, PulseNet International, which aims to implement WGS in all public health laboratories globally to improve response to foodborne illnesses and outbreaks.
Related Meetings and Trainings
APHL works with various partners to co-sponsor the Integrated Foodborne Outbreak Response and Management (InFORM) conferences. This conference, held every two years, brings various professionals involved with foodborne and enteric disease outbreak response to address issues and develop new innovative solutions to improve the food safety field.
View presentations from all past InFORM conferences.
InFORM 2020 award acknowledgements and updates.
APHL regularly holds regional PulseNet and OutbreakNet meetings, which highlight contributions of laboratorians, epidemiologists and environmental health specialists in foodborne surveillance activities and local, regional and national levels.
APHL works with federal partners to provide trainings in the wet-bench and analytical methods (BioNumerics) for local/state public health laboratories participating in the PulseNet Network both domestically and globally. Learn more about these and other APHL trainings.