Application of molecular genetic methods in diagnostics and epidemiology of food-borne bacterial pathogens.APMIS 2004 Nov-Dec; 112(11-12):908-29A
Salmonella enterica, Campylobacter and Yersinia species, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), Listeria monocytogenes and Clostridium perfringens are the bacterial pathogens constituting the greatest burden of food-borne disease in Finland. Several molecular genetic methods have been applied to diagnose, discriminate and survey these bacteria. PCR, PCR-RFLP and PFGE are the most widely and successfully used. However, these methods are unable to replace conventional and internationally standardised phenotyping. Electronic database libraries of the different genomic profiles will enable continuous surveillance of infections and detection of possible infection clusters at an early stage. Furthermore, whole-genome sequence data have opened up new insights into epidemiological surveillance. Laboratory-based surveillance performed in a timely manner and exploiting adequate methods, and co-operation at local, national and international levels are among the key elements in preventing food-borne diseases. This paper reviews different applications of molecular genetic methods for investigating enteric bacterial pathogens and gives examples of the methods successfully used in diagnostics and epidemiological studies in Finland.