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Researchers Testing Monterey Area Fields to Identify Foodborne Pathogens

December 2, 2009

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Editor's note: This news item has been reprinted from WIFSS@Work, the newsletter of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.

A team of University of California scientists is collecting and testing samples from wild rodents near leafy green fields in Monterey County, CA. Dr. Rob Atwill, principal investigator, Western Center for Food Safety and Security, built a team of highly trained professionals to properly identify rodents and collect samples in agriculture fields.

The project extends the ongoing collaborative research into the epidemiology and ecology of E. coli O157:H7 in leafy green production areas of the central California coast (See WIFSS eNewsletter December 2008, "Meet the E. coli Field Team"). Sophisticated laboratory tests are conducted on fecal samples to detect foodborne pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella spp.

Leading field operations is WIFSS scientist Dr. Eduardo Vivas. He earned his DVM in 2001 from Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas y Ambientales in Bogota', Colombia and a Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine degree from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. Dr. Vivas is a member of several epidemiology organizations and has experience with surveillance, mitigation and outbreak investigations.

Assisting Dr. Vivas in the field is Dr. Tamara Vodovoz. She earned her DVM in 2001 from Universidad de la Salle in Bogota', Colombia and a Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine degree in 2006 from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Vodovoz has worked with wildlife in her native Colombia, the U.S. and other countries. She is now enrolled in the UC Davis Graduate Group in Comparative Pathology as she pursues her Ph.D.

Co-investigators are WIFSS scientists Dr. Michele Jay-Russell, a veterinarian who provides wildlife expertise and technical advice in field and laboratory operations, and Dr. Xunde Li, who leads the institute's laboratory operations.

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