PulseNet, completed in May 1998, is a national computer network of public heath laboratories that perform DNA fingerprinting on two bacteria: E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella typhimurium. Using a standardized methodology for pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), designated network laboratories in the United States can rapidly determine whether foodborne illnesses in multiple locations are linked to a common pathogen and food source. Bacterial PFGE patterns are entered into a centralized national electronic database by the state or local health department. Matching patterns from different locations during a defined time period will trigger an alert to a possible multilocation foodborne-illness outbreak. 8
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