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A New Pathogen Detection Method to Improve Food Safety

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists developed the first accurate test in Canada to detect Escherichia fergusonii, a bacterium that causes diseases in both humans and animals.

This bacterium, which frequently develops antibiotic resistance, has been linked to conditions ranging from wound infections to life threatening illnesses such as sepsis and pancreatic cancer in humans, leading to enormous human and financial costs for medical treatment. It has also been detected in livestock and poultry leading to diarrhea, mastitis and meningitis.

The scientists reported that antimicrobial resistant E. fergusonii is widely prevalent in broiler chicken production. Rapid and efficient detection is one of the critical strategies to control this hazardous bacterium.

The researchers developed a method that amplifies a very small amount of genetic materials to a level where it can be identified. This method may improve and reduce the detection time of E. fergusonii from the current six days to one day. This innovation is an exciting contribution that could be adapted for use in food safety and environmental assessment studies. It will help our understanding of the ecology and antimicrobial resistance associated with poultry, which will help scientists develop strategies to lower the risk of potential contamination of poultry-derived foods.

For more information:

Simmons, K., Md. R. Islam, H. Rempel, G. Block, E. Topp, and M. S. Diarra. 2016. Antimicrobial resistance of Escherichia fergusonii isolated from broiler chickens. J. Food Protect. 79:929-938.

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