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Following the Bugs Lurking in Food

As genome sequencing can take a look at the entire length of bacterial, fungal, or viral DNA, it's coming in handy for tracking outbreaks of foodborne illness, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

"That allows us to link cases together [and] to contaminated foods or other exposures more precisely than ever before," John Besser from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells the ABC.

This approach, it adds, could be used in instances such as the recent contamination of berries in Australia with hepatitis A to determine whether the cases were linked based on the similarity of viral DNA.

"We're hopeful that a large proportion … diseases that have significant public health impact will be sequenced so that public health officials can have a better idea of what's going on in the population, where there's potential contamination events, and hopefully in time to prevent more cases of disease and find out problems in our food supply that might not otherwise be discovered," Besser adds.