You could say lab rats know what to expect because they know the history.

“Laboratory Review of Foodborne Disease Investigations in Washington State 2007-2017” is all about using the past to prepare for the future.

In Washington State, the Public Health Laboratories located in Shoreline, WA, expect to see about 3,000 notifiable enteric foodborne illnesses annually. And foodborne illnesses are a leading cause of infectious diseases.

During the decade from 2007 to 2017, those laboratories tested 11,501 samples for foodborne illnesses using both serotyping and subtyping tools.

“During this period there were 8,037 total clinical and environmental samples tested by pulsed-field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE), including 512 foodborne disease clusters and 2176 PFGE patterns of Salmonella enterica. . .” according to a recent report.

The decade data review, which the authors expect will be a “reference baseline” for future years, was published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc. in an Open Access article, which permits unrestricted year.

The authors, led by Jennifer L. Swoveland, include Laurie K. Stewart, Mary Kaye Eckmann, Raymond Gee, Krisandra J. Allen, Cathy M. Vandegrift, Gena Olson, Mi-Gyeony Kang, Michael L. Tran, Elizabeth Melius, Brian Hiatt, Romesh K. Gautom and Ailyn C. Perez-Osorio.

Stewart, Allen, and Melius are with Communicable Disease Epidemiology in the Washington State Department of Health. The others are with Washington State’s Public Health Laboratories.

“There were 2,446 Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli samples tested by PFGE, which included 158 foodborne disease clusters and 1,174 PFGE patterns,” according to the authors. “There were 332 samples of Listeria monocytogenes tested by PFGE, including 35 foodborne disease clusters and 104 PFGE patterns. Sources linked to outbreaks included raw chicken, unpasteurized dairy products, various produce types, and undercooked beef among others.”

Foodborne disease is a leading cause of infectious illnesses in Washington State, requiring reports to the state lab of specimens or isolates from patients diagnosed with listeriosis, salmonellosis, shigellosis, vibriosis, or infection with Shiga toxin- producing Escherichia coli (STEC).

“The authors say “the aim of this publication was to summarize the work that WAPHL has carried out over the past 11 years (2007–2017) in the area of foodborne disease investigations.”

“The transition as next-generation sequencing (NGS) replaces PFGE is expected to have a significant impact given the enhanced cluster detection power because of the increase in resolution of NGS. In addition, the use of culture-independent diagnostic testing (CIDT) and its impacts on the need for isolates are briefly addressed.”

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