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Testing for Salmonella and E.coli Promising

Testing for Salmonella and E.coli Promising

New water filtration can detect pathogens at very low levels.

Until now, scientists have been unable to detect Salmonella and E.coli pathogens at levels low enough to predict an outbreak.  But, scientists working at the ARS J. Phil Campbell, Senior, Natural resource Conservation Center in Watkinsville, Ga., have developed a water filtration technique that can be used to detect just a few cells of pathogenic E. coli and Salmonella in a 10-liter water sample, at lower levels than any previously detected.

The process, a first developed for waterways, combines techniques previously developed to assess water quality and detect pathogens in laboratory settings: a water filtration technique to concentrate the pathogens; a special medium for growing and measuring the number of pathogenic cells; a biochemical testing process; and PCR technology.

The scientists believe, because the system involves collecting cell cultures, it also may lead to developing culture collections that, like a fingerprint database, could be used to identify bacterial strains that are potential sources of future outbreaks.

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