Lab technician extracts DNA for whole genome sequencing at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmentals Molecular Science Laboratory in Denver. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)
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By the end of this year, labs in all 50 states are expected to also be using genetic sequencing for much more common causes of food poisoning outbreaks, including salmonella and the E. coli bacteria linked to recent lettuce outbreak.That means the number of identifiable outbreaks are likely to explode even if the number of illnesses don't.It estimates that 48 million Americans get sick -- and 3,000 die -- from food poisoning each year.From 1983 to 1997, only five listeria outbreaks were identified in the United States. They were obvious and large -- with a median of 54 cases per outbreak.Since whole genome sequencing began, the CDC says it's catching more listeria outbreaks with a food source identified.Through whole genome sequencing, investigators discovered about three dozen people had been sickened.Then whole genome sequencing helped find and confirm illnesses.It was used in the current investigation of E. coli bacteria found in romaine lettuce grown in Arizona, which has sickened at least 84 people in 19 states, according to a CDC update released Wednesday.
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