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WHO Seeks to Expand International Use of Whole Genome Sequencing

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

(North American Meat Institute)

The World Health Organization (WHO) published a landscape paper encouraging all countries to review how whole genome sequencing (WGS) can be used to improve their foodborne disease surveillance and response systems. The paper summarizes the benefits and challenges associated with implementing WGS and describes issues developing countries may face. WGS can increase the speed with which illnesses and food contamination are detected and the detail in which they are understood, resulting in quicker and more targeted interventions, according to WHO. The report states implementing WGS requires basic epidemiology, surveillance and food monitoring and testing infrastructure, which many low-income countries are still developing. Sufficient lab capacity, shipping requirements for reagents with limited shelf life and functional agencies that can act on the data produced through WGS are additional prerequisites that may pose

challenges for some countries, WHO finds.

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