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To Keep Track

The US has completed its upgrade of public health labs to provide whole-genome sequencing, Quartz reports. This, it adds, will help keep track of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In particular, it notes that the PulseNet network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories that tracks foodborne illnesses has not only been outfitted with sequencing capability, but also has been connected to the same software system to enable easier uploading and sharing of data. "We will be able to react to the emergence of new resistant strains much earlier than we were able to in the past for sure," Peter Gerner-Schmidt, chief of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's enteric disease branch, which oversees PulseNet, tells Quartz.

PulseNet had previously relied on pulsed field gel electrophoresis, but had begun switching over to sequencing a few years ago. In 2014, when about a hundred people across 24 states became ill with Salmonella enterica infections, it wasn't until officials used sequencing that they could determine which company supplied the contaminated chicken — sequencing was only just starting to be used at that time, GenomeWeb reported a few years later.