Submitted to: Foodborne Pathogens and Disease
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/6/2006
Publication Date: 9/4/2007
Citation: Vincent, V., Scott, H.M., Harvey, R.B., Alali, W.Q., Hume, M.E. 2007. Novel surveillance of Salmonella enterica serotype Heidelberg epidemics in a closed community. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. 4(3):375-385. Interpretive Summary: Many times gastroenteritis goes undiagnosed because of the numerous causes of vomiting and diarrhea. Knowing the causative organism is important for disease control reasons. In this study, we showed that an outbreak of Salmonella could be diagnosed retroactively by testing wastewater samples. This capability could be an important tool for disease control for epidemiologists and health care systems.
Technical Abstract: During 2003-2005, a systematic and regularly timed human and farm-animal wastewater sampling scheme existed in several prison units in Texas. In early July 2003, an outbreak of gastroenteritis caused by Salmonella enterica serotype Heidelberg occurred in the human population at one site. Wastewater samples from the weeks before, during, and after the outbreak were tested for the pathogen. Traditional selective culture, serogrouping and serotyping techniques as well as real-time polymerase chain reaction and pulsed field gel electrophoresis were used to detect and characterize the S. Heidelberg in each week. The ability to detect the causal pathogen of an outbreak while it circulates in the host populations prior to and after an outbreak, as well as during the outbreak peak, suggests that wastewater could be used as a supplemental disease surveillance tool. To further explore this possibility, two subsequent clusters of uncharacterized gastroenteritis were also investigated using wastewater samples.