FDA Database Can Identify Source of Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

February 13, 2015 in News

FDA, with support from state and federal public health laboratories, has developed a genomic database that can be used to identify and track foodborne disease-causing bacterial pathogens back to their source, Health Data Management reports.

Details of Database

The publicly accessible database, called GenomeTrakr, uses whole-genome sequencing to identify complete DNA sequences of an organism’s genetic material all at once. The data can be used to identify pathogens from food and environmental samples and compare them with those from sick patients.

The database is housed at the National Center for Biotechnology Information and stores genome sequences uploaded by FDA and state lab scientists. Genome sequences for more than 11,000 isolates have been added to the database so far.

Alice Welch, director of FDA’s Technology Transfer Program, said that the database along with the whole-genome sequencing method can be used to more accurately identify signatures within and between bacterial species (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 2/12).

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