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NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Foodborne disease surveillance needs in Australia: Harmonisation of molecular laboratory testing and sharing data from human, animal, and food sources Volume 15 Issue 1-2

Martyn Kirk

New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 15(2) 13 - 17 Published: 2004

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Martyn Kirk


Foodborne diseases cause significant morbidity and
mortality in Australia and throughout the world. Outbreaks
of foodborne disease often require investigators to
collaborate across jurisdictional boundaries—even at
times internationally. Notified cases of foodborne disease
are only a small proportion of the total burden of foodborne
disease affecting the community. Many pathogens that
contaminate food are zoonotic in origin (that is, are
transmitted to humans from lower vertebrates), although
the pathway from animal to human via foods is complex
and difficult to understand. This article describes how
our ability to understand and control foodborne diseases
in Australia can be enhanced through improving our
surveillance datasets by harmonising methods for
advanced microbiological testing of foodborne organisms,
and sharing data obtained from human, food, and animal