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May 7, 1997

New Approaches for Detecting and Curtailing Foodborne Microbial Infections

JAMA. 1997;277(17):1337-1340. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540410015004

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HEADLINES of recent foodborne disease outbreaks—strawberries tainted with hepatitis A virus, unpasteurized apple juice contaminated with Escherichia coli 0157:H7, raspberries harboring Cyclospora cayetanensis—are doing much to fuel the perception that microbial pathogens are gaining an upper hand. But while it's true that such pathogens are evolving new tricks and exploiting new opportunities, epidemiologists and laboratory scientists are countering with new strategies that promise to revolutionize the detection of infections caused by foodborne microbes.

See also pp 1340 and 1344

National surveillance of foodborne diseases at a group of sentinel public laboratories around the nation, sophisticated technologies such as DNA fingerprinting to pinpoint specific bacterial subtypes responsible for an outbreak, and computer networks that link and analyze the findings of far-flung laboratories may soon provide public health experts with an early warning system far beyond what is possible today.

Although such efforts have been in progress during the past