Increased use of type of diagnostic test poses challenge to tracking of foodborne illness
A report published Thursday April 14, 2016 in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Week Report says that changes in the tests that diagnose foodborne illness help to identify infections faster but could soon pose challenges to finding outbreaks and monitoring progress toward preventing foodborne disease.
Culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) help doctors diagnose infections quickly because they provide results in hours instead of the days needed for traditional culture methods, which require growing bacteria to determine the cause of illness. However, public health officials cannot get the detailed information about the bacteria needed to help find outbreaks, check for antibiotic resistance, and track foodborne disease trends without a bacterial culture.
In the short term, clinical laboratories should work with their public health laboratories to ensure a culture whenever a CIDT indicates that someone with diarrheal illness has a bacterial infection. For a long-term solution, CDC is working with partners to develop advanced testing methods that, without culture, will give health care providers information to diagnose illness and also give the detailed information that public health officials need to detect and investigate outbreaks.
The report included the most recent data from CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, or FoodNet. It summarizes preliminary 2015 data on nine germs spread commonly through food. According to the report, the most frequent causes of infection in 2015 were Salmonella and Campylobacter.