The Canadian Press reports that an international agreement between Canada and the US will allow public health officials on both sides of the border to trace outbreaks of foodborne pathogens like E. coli with greater ease from now on.
Electronic databases maintained by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control will be formally linked, allowing investigators in both countries to chase down outbreaks of foodborne illness more rapidly and efficiently that can often occur over multiple states and provinces.
The head of the CDC’s foodborne division said given the links between the countries and their food supplies, such co-operation makes sense. The U.S. database tracks four pathogens – E. coli, salmonella, shigella and listeria. Currently PulseNet Canada tracks only E. coli, but will be adding the others.
Additional systems, named after the CDC’s PulseNet, are in the works for Latin America, Europe and countries of the Pacific Rim, extending the investigative capacities of the linked databases.