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Quick detection of food-borne illness

The Swinburne University of Technology has been authorised to develop a timely recognition system to trace the sources of particular bacteria’s which contribute to Gastroenteritis, the familiar food borne illness within Australia by The Victorian Department of Health.

With more than 5.4 million cases of gastroenteritis reported in Australia annually of those 15,000 requiring hospitalisation and 80 deaths.  This results in costs to the national health care system is likely to be $1.2 billion annually.

Gastroenteritis is typically caused by viruses and frequently bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter jejuni.  Present testing methods for the bacteria are lengthy as growing samples for genotyping analysis takes three to four days. This delay can make tracing the origin of the contamination tricky.

Using Swinburne’s MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer to precisely classify which strain-specific metabolic fingerprints, the results are then entered into a database of different cell proteins allowing the evaluation of new strains with those formerly identified.

Microbiology Professor Elena Ivanova of Swinburne University said “You can get the preparation stage down to one day and then get the results through the MALDI-TOF in half an hour,”
“This greatly reduces the time and effort required to identify the origin of a Campylobacter jejuni contamination” .

From:  AFN Monday December 17, 2012