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.
Role in Quality Assurance and Trainings
APHL is committed to helping PulseNet participants produce the highest quality WGS data. This commitment to quality enhances current capacity to conduct surveillance and detect foodborne outbreaks. High quality data continues to aid in the accuracy with which outbreaks are detected and thus can lead to implementation of more timely and effective preventative measures and improvements to food safety as a whole. Maintaining a robust quality assurance program that provides sound technical feedback will ensure that the data generated by participating laboratories is of the highest quality possible. In collaboration with CDC, APHL manages the program by maintaining the network's QAQC Manual, a collection of standard operating procedures and by administering, organizing and evaluating certifications and proficiency testing (PT).
APHL works with federal partners to provide trainings in the wet-bench and analytical methods (BioNumerics) for public health laboratories participating in the PulseNet Network both domestically and globally. Information about future trainings will be disseminated through network notifications.
Related Conference and Meetings
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.
InFORM 2020 Webinar series
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 and collaborators are working on the 2021 regional meetings. More information about these meetings will be forthcoming.