Molecular Subtyping in Vermont

The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory is a participant in the PulseNet program. 

PulseNet is a program that was developed and is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PulseNet is a function of all 50 state public health laboratories, as well as USDA, FDA, and international public health labs.

Goals of PulseNet
  • Detect foodborne disease case clusters by whole genome sequencing (WGS).
  • Facilitate early identification of common source outbreaks.
  • Allow for real-time communication among state, local health departments, and international partners.
  • Help food regulatory agencies identify areas where implementation of new measures is likely to increase the safety of our food supply, including food recalls when necessary.
How PulseNet Works in Vermont
  • A clinical laboratory submits a PulseNet qualified organism (e.g. Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter) to the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory, or the organism may be isolated at the Laboratory from a stool specimen submitted for enteric screening. 
  • A microbiologist at the Laboratory sequences the genome of each isolate. 
  • The sequence is compared to sequences of other organisms received by the Laboratory, and allele similarities and differences are identified. 
  • If there is a match, Health Department epidemiologists will conduct interviews with the patients involved to try and find a common cause of infection. 
  • Sequencing data is uploaded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and compared to sequencing data from other PulseNet laboratories, both nationally and internationally. 
  • If a match is detected, Vermont Department of Health epidemiologists work with epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as investigators from other states and/or countries, to try and find a common cause of infection and prevent further outbreaks.