Molecular methods have become vital epidemiological tools in the detection and characterization of bacteria associated with a foodborne outbreak. We used both culture and real-time PCR to detect a Vibrio parahaemolyticus isolate associated with a foodborne outbreak. The outbreak occurred in July 2002 in Polk County, Florida, and originated at a Chinese buffet, with one person being hospitalized. The hospital isolated V. parahaemolyticus from the patient but destroyed the sample after diagnosis. From an onsite visit of the restaurant, food samples that possibly contributed to the outbreak were collected and sent to the Florida Department of Health, Tampa Branch Laboratory. Crab legs, crabsticks, and mussel samples were homogenized and incubated according to the Food and Drug Administration Bacteriological Analytical Manual culture protocol. Three sets of primers and a TaqMan probe were designed to target the tdh, trh, and tlh genes and used for real-time PCR. This study was successful in isolating V. parahaemolyticus from a mussel sample and detecting two of its genes (tdh and tlh) in food and pure culture by real-time PCR.

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Author notes

Present address: Esoteric Testing, Pathology Department, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, FL 33601, USA.