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 public health laboratories within the PulseNet Network.
APHL's Role in PulseNet Surveillance
The PulseNet program within Food Safety works with the federal, state, local and international partners to create a globally integrated surveillance network in reponse 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.
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.
APHL is committed to helping PulseNet participants produce the highest quality WGS data. 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.
APHL collaborates with CDC to manage the network's standard operating procedures by administering, organizing and evaluating certifications and proficiency testing (PT).
PulseNet-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.
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.
Recordings of the presentations presented at the 2021 InFORM virtual regional meeting can be found in the APHL Training Portal by searching "InFORM 2021."