Foodborne Enteric Pathogen Testing


To support the state and national surveillance and epidemiological investigations of foodborne disease outbreaks by providing molecular and conventional testing for foodborne pathogens in clinical specimens and further characterization of these pathogens.

What we do

  • Test clinical specimens and isolates submitted by hospital and commercial laboratories for the presence of enteric disease pathogens of public health significance such as Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, Vibrio, Yersinia and E.coli 0157:H7, and Norovirus.
  • Maintain readiness to provide laboratory support and testing for enteric disease outbreaks to support the mission of the Department of Health’s Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology.
  • Characterize enteric pathogens and help to define and track outbreaks by a variety of methods including serotyping and serogrouping as well as genotyping by molecular “fingerprinting” methods such as Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) and Multiple Locus Variable number of tandem repeat Analysis (MLVA) to support state and national epidemiological investigations.
  • Monitor advancements in the technology of enteric pathogen detection and characterization.


  • Outbreak Response - Pig Roast (August 2015 – September 2015) – Two clinical isolates were submitted to the RISHL for confirmation of suspected Salmonella Typhimurium and it was found that they matched by PFGE. After Health’s Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology (CAIDE) performed interviews, it was found that both cases had been present at a local pig roast. Analysis of a sample of cooked pork from the pig roast was also positive for Salmonella Typhimurium. The food isolate matched by PFGE to the clinical cases by our laboratory. This example illustrates a definitive determination of the source of an outbreak by using laboratory tests.
  • Outbreak Response - Oozeball Tournament (October 2015 – November 2015) – During an annual Oozeball tournament at a local university, a number of contestants developed GI symptoms afterwards. Analysis of clinical specimens turned up two different serotypes of Salmonella, S. Typhimurium and S.Thompson . After interviews showed no common food items, it was determined that a number of the cases had inhaled the mud that the game was played in. The soil was also tested and found to be positive for three different serotypes of Salmonella, Kentucky, Newport and Schwarzengrund, which confirmed the source of illness in this outbreak.