Food-borne Pathogens Are Getting Faster

Anyone who has travelled extensively is probably familiar with “Traveler’s diarrhea.”  But thanks to today’s global food chain, you no longer need to travel to get it.  You can contract the illness right here at home.

Traveler’s diarrhea is a collective term for digestive tract disorders that cause stomach cramps and (ahem) other gastrointestinal problems.  It is usually caused by eating or drinking in a location where climate or sanitary practices are different from what you’re used to – hence the “traveler’s” term.  Fortunately, TD usually works its way through your system (so to speak) in a few days with no after-effects.

TD is caused by various bacteria, viruses and parasites.  In a recent outbreak, several hundred people across nine states in the United States contracted TD without leaving home.  The source was traced to salads sold at McDonald’s fast-food restaurants.  The salad was contaminated with the parasite cyclospora cayetanensis.

Korean researchers developed a method to simultaneously detect three species of protozoan parasites – Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia lamblia and Cyclospora cayetanensis — major causes of TD that are resistant to standard antimicrobial treatments.

The method uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a technique that multiplies small quantities of DNA, making them easier to detect.  The researchers used an Agilent SureCycler Thermal Cycler to perform the multiplex-touchdown PCR.

Agilent is also a leading provider of complete solutions to validate the quality, safety and authenticity of food and agriculture products.


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